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Student Library Guide: Scholarly literature

This research guide is designed to provide all Barry University students a basic overview of the resources and services available at the Monsignor William Barry Memorial Library.

Types of Scholarly Literature

You will encounter many types of articles and it is important to distinguish between these different categories of scholarly literature. Keep in mind the following definitions.

Peer-reviewed (or refereed):  Refers to articles that have undergone a rigorous review process, often including revisions to the original manuscript, by peers in their discipline, before publication in a scholarly journal. This can include empirical studies, review articles, meta-analyses among others.

Empirical study (or primary article):  An empirical study is one that aims to gain new knowledge on a topic through direct or indirect observation and research. These include quantitative or qualitative data and analysis. In science, an empirical article will often include the following sections: Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion.

Review article:  In the scientific literature, this is a type of article that provides a synthesis of existing research on a particular topic. These are useful when you want to get an idea of a body of research that you are not yet familiar with. It differs from a systematic review in that it does not aim to capture ALL of the research on a particular topic.

Systematic review:  This is a methodical and thorough literature review focused on a particular research question. It's aim is to identify and synthesize all of the scholarly research on a particular topic in an unbiased, reproducible way to provide evidence for practice and policy-making. It may involve a meta-analysis (see below).

Meta-analysis:  This is a type of research study that combines or contrasts data from different independent studies in a new analysis in order to strengthen the understanding of a particular topic. There are many methods, some complex, applied to performing this type of analysis.

how to know

For research assignments, you will likely be required to find a scholarly article which is an article contained in a scholarly journal. Scholarly journals are also called academic, peer-reviewed or refereed journals.

Several features of popular magazines and scholarly journals make it relatively easy to distinguish one from the other, once you know what to look for.

The features listed below will help you answer the question "How Do I Know?"
 

Peer Review in 3 Minutes

North Carolina State University Library. (2014, May 1). Peer Review in 3 Minutes [Video]. Youtube.

Grey Literauture

Gray (or grey) literature is literature produced by individuals or organizations outside of commercial and/or academic publishers. This type of non-formally published substantive information (often not formally peer-reviewed; especially important in all kinds of sciences) can include information types listed below.

  • Theses & Dissertations
  • Government Reports
  • Conference Proceedings, Papers, and Posters
  • Patents
  • Unpublished clinical trials
  • Videos
  • Reports
  • White Papers
  • Statistics