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Public Administration

Peer Reviewed Journals (Articles)

Peer review is an editing process in which a scholar's work is reviewed by experts in a field before being accepted for publication.   

More credence is given to journal articles that have gone through a peer review process, ensuring accuracy of content.


  •    ALL peer reviewed journals are scholarly journals.
  •    Not all scholarly journals are peer reviewed.


Remember in addition to direct quotes you also have to cite your sources for:

  • ideas (unless they're your own)
  • summaries
  • paraphrases
  • facts that aren't "common knowledge"

There are even methods for citing class discussions and personal communication like interviews and email.

Don't take shortcuts--when in doubt, cite!

Evaluating Resources

Internet Resources -- Ask Yourself

Can I use this?

Anyone can publish on the internet. Resources found in the library have gone through an evaluation process before they get to you. If you choose to use the internet for research, you need to evaluate the information yourself by asking these questions:


  • Who published this material?
  • What are the author's qualifications?
    • Is this someone in your field of study with a Ph.D.?
    • What other research has this person done?
    • What is this person's reputation?
  • Can the author be contacted if you have questions?
  • What organization is sponsoring the website?
  • Do you trust the author providing the information?


  • Can you verify the accuracy of the information?
  • Are other reputable sites linked to it?
  • Is information cited properly?
  • Is the information written well?  i.e., spelling, punctuation, grammar, etc.


  • When was this material posted on the internet?
  • Are there links within this website that are dead?
  • Is the site maintained and updated?
  • If information is dated, does that make it less valuable?


  • Is the information presented in a manner that makes it easy to use?
  • Does the website have images that add to the purpose of the site?
  • How thoroughly is the subject covered?


  • What is the purpose of this page?
    • Is it to inform, explain, persuade, or sell a product?
  • Is the information intended for a specific audience (high school students, scholars, etc.)?
    • Is the intended audience useful/appropriate for your research?
  • Is information presented objectively or does it have a bias?
    • If it has a bias (e.g., a specific political or philosophical point of view) does that detract from the usefulness to you?

Although this list of questions is not exhaustive, do you feel confident that the information presented on the website you are evaluating is of use for you and your research?



Database Commands -- Boolean Operators:


Journals vs. Magazines




Nature of Content

Scholarly; often (but not always) peer-reviewed / refereed.

Popular, i.e., written for the general public. Magazines range from very sophisticated to very basic.


Detailed reports of original research or experiment.

Secondary reports or discussions; may include personal narrative, opinion, anecdotes.


Usually scholar(s) with subject expertise identified, and credentials are given

Often a professional writer who may or may not be identified, and may or may not have subject expertise.


Scholars, researchers, and students.

General public; the interested non-specialist.


Specialized terminology or jargon of the field; often requires prior knowledge.

Vocabulary in general usage; understandable to most readers; average reading level: 8th grade

Layout & Organization

Formal organization; articles often begins with an abstract, i.e. summary. If reporting experimental findings, notes the experiment’s purpose, method, results, analysis of the results, and conclusion. Bibliography listed at the end of the article. May include charts or graphs, but rarely photographs.

Informal organization: eye-catching type and formatting, usually includes illustrations or photographs. May not intend to present an idea with supporting evidence or come to a conclusion.

Bibliography & References

All quotes and facts can be verified with citations.

Rare. Scanty, if any, information about sources.


  • Developmental Psychology
  • Journal of the American Medical Association

The words “journal” or “review” often appear in the title.

  • Time
  • Newsweek
  • People
  • Harper's
  • Rolling Stone

Almost anything available in a store or newsstand.