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BIOL 1210 - Library Assignment Research Guide

Find a non-peer reviewed academic source

For the purposes of this assignment, your non-peer-reviewed academic source will probably be either a book or a government document.  (Non-peer reviewed academic articles do exist, but they are often difficult to find in article databases.)

Use Google Advanced Search to find a government document. Enter your keywords, then in the "site or domain" field enter "" to (to find Canadian sources) or ".gov" (to find American sources), then select pdf as the file type. Many (but not all!) government reports will meet the criteria for non peer reviewed academic sources.

For books, use either the Library's Discover service or the TRU Library catalogue   (You might be able to find a an academic book through Google Books, but the TRU Library is likely to be your best source.)

Books tend to be about the big picture, so your search will need to be broader than the one that you would use to find articles.  For example, if you were researching salmon and the nitrogen cycle, you would search for articles using the search terms "salmon" AND "nitrogen cycle."  But to search for books, you would just use the world "salmon."  This is because it is unlikely that the library has a book that is just about the role that salmon play in the nitrogen cycle, but a book about the biology and ecology of salmon is likely to discuss it.  


Once you have found a book or government document, check to make sure that a) it IS academic and b) it is NOT peer-reviewed. 

Remember that, for the purposes of this assignment, a book is considered to be academic if it meets ALL of the following criteria:

A. The author is an expert in the field who is paid to do the research.
B. There is a bibliography
C. There are in-text citations.

A. Is the Author an Expert?
Someone is an expert in a field if they are paid by a university, government or other institution to do the research. (Sometimes an independent scholar will publish a book, in which case, check to see if the scholar a) has a PhD in the subject or b) has published at least one peer reviewed article on the subject.)  Most books and reports will give information about the authors and their affiliations.


If the book doesn't tell your abut the authors and their affiliations, use Google to find out more.


B. Is there is a bibliography?
A quick scan should answer this. Remember that "references" is another world for bibliography. 



C. Are there are In-text Citations?
Again, a quick scan should determine this.


If you have found EVIDENCE for A, B and C then you have an academic book.  If you are missing evidence for ANY of these criteria, then you need to find another book and start over.


Has Source been Peer Reviewed?
Finally, you need to check for evidence that the source has been peer reviewed. A peer reviewed source will generally say, either in the front or back matter of the document, that it has been peer reviewed (or "refereed," which means the he same thing). If you find explicit mention that the title has been peer-reviewed, then you’ll need to find a different book for this part of the assignment.  (On the other hand, you will have found one of your peer-reviewed resources!) However, you can limit your search for evidence to the book itself; you are not required to dig through the publisher’s online editorial policies! If there is NO mention of a peer review process in the book itself, then this lack of evidence is your evidence.  Photocopy the front pages of the book to show that it does not mention peer review.


You’ve just established that you have a non-peer reviewed academic source!