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GEOG 1000

Research guide for determining scholarly and peer reviewed sources

Shane Neifer, MLIS, MA

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Shane Neifer
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GEOG 1000 Assignment Instructions

The Geography 1000 Bibliography Assignment isn’t an overly difficult one, but it will take some time, and it does incorporate many definitions, skills, and specific tasks you will need to complete. Your best bet? Break it down into these STEPS.

  1. Read the entire assignment. It contains a lot of important information that you need to know in order to successfully complete this assignment.  In fact, it probably wouldn’t hurt to read it over for a second time!
  2. Consult the flowchart on the Library Lab Exercise tab. You may wish to print it, since you will be referring to it a lot.
  3. Brainstorm for a list of words and phrases you might use to research your topic.
  4. With your search terms try your hand at finding a non-academic source. This will help you better understand the topic, and might lead you to additional search terms.
  5. Next, find a non-peer-reviewed academic source.
  6. On your own, find at least two peer-reviewed academic sources.
  7. Ensure that you have 4 different sources for your bibliography.  Remember that at least one should be non-academic, one should be academic but not peer reviewed, and the rest (2) should be peer-reviewed.  
  8. Create a bibliography of your 4 sources using APA citation style. Make sure that you have addressed the Bibliography Assignment requirements by as outlined in the assignment.

Library Lab Exercise

Find a non-academic source

Finding Non-academic Sources

For the purposes of this assignment, your popular (non-academic) sources might include:

  • Newspaper or magazine articles
  • Webpage or blog entries
  • Books that do NOT have in-text citations

You can find popular articles and websites using Google. Even Wikipedia will work for this part of the assignment.  You can find books using the Library's Discover Service.  Most of the books in the TRU library are academic, but some of them are not, and you can tell that they are non-academic because they do not have in-text citations.

Remember the flowchart and the three characteristics of academic sources; if you can show evidence that your source does NOT meet any one of these three criteria, then it is non-academic. In other words, you have a non-academic source if you can demonstrate just ONE of the following:

  • There are NO in-text citations
  • There is NO bibliography
  • The author is NOT an expert who is paid to do the research. If you cannot determine who the author is, then you have met this criterion!

Example:
Non-Academic Source website

Find a non-peer reviewed academic source

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 ".gc.ca" to (to find Canadian sources) or ".gov" (to find U.S. 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 the Library's Discover service to locate both print and electronic books.  [You might be able to find an academic book through Google Books, but the TRU Library is likely to be your best source, as you usually cannot print or email content found within Google Books.]

Books tend to be about the big picture, so your search will typically need to be broader than the one that you would use to find articles. For example, if you were researching about wildfires and how climate change may be impacting their severity, you could search for articles using the search terms "climate change" AND "wildfires."  To search for books or reports (i.e., academic, non-peer reviewed sources) you can use a similar search ("climate change" AND "wildfire")  If you get too many results, try searching just one term, a different term (fire instead of wildfire) or use other limiters within the Discover tool to focus your search. 

Example:
Fire in the Forest (book cover)

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.

Examples:

If the book doesn't tell you about 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" or "works cited" are other terms for bibliography. 

Example:

 

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

Example:
In-line citation example

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 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.


Example:
Book-front matter


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

Find a peer reviewed academic source

Find a peer reviewed academic source

Most (if not all) of your peer reviewed academic sources will be articles published in scholarly journals.  Start your search with the library's Discover service.  If you don't find what you need (or if you are just the sort of person who really likes to do things thoroughly) try some of the library's databases.

Remember that you are looking for research articles.  Scholarly journals mostly publish research articles, but they also publish things like editorials, letters and book reviews, which are excellent sources (and would satisfy the requirement for a non-peer reviewed academic article) but may not satisfy the requirements for this part of the assignment - because even in a peer reviewed publication, these other types of writing do not always go through the peer review process.

For an article to be considered peer reviewed, it must meet all of the criteria for an academic source, plus the one more: 

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.
D. The article has been reviewed by one or more of the authors' peers (i.e., experts in the same or a closely related field).

Example:

 

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.  Scholarly articles will almost always give the authors' affiliations -- i.e. who they they work for -- at either on the top or the bottom of the first or last page.

Example:

 

B. Is there is a bibliography?
A quick scan should answer this. Remember that "references" or "works cited" are other terms for bibliography. 

Example:

 

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

Example:


If you have found EVIDENCE for a, b, & c, then you have an academic article. Now you just need to confirm whether it is a peer-reviewed source.

D. Is there evidence that the article has been reviewed by the authors' peers?
There are two kinds of evidence that an article has been peer reviewed. One form of evidence is dates on the article itself indicating when it was originally received by the journal, when it was revised, and when it was finally accepted for publication. If there is just an "accepted" date, then you don't have sufficient evidence that it actually went through peer-review prior to publication.

Example:

If there is insufficient evidence on the article itself, then you will need to search online for the journal's editorial policy.  Often this will be on the publishers website under the Aims & Scope section or the Instructions for Authors section.

Example:

General Assignment Tips

General Assignment Tips

  • Your sources can be current, but they do not have to be. So long as your 4 sources meet all stated assignment criteria, the research can be from any year of publication.
  • “In-text citations” may be (Name, YEAR) citations, or footnotes or endnotes. You’re looking for evidence that you can track specific statements the author is making throughout the document back to the original sources. The exact style being used isn’t important; what’s important is that the information is being cited. 
     

 

  • Yes, “expert” is a kind of fuzzy term. Is someone an expert if you’re reading their first peer reviewed publication? If they’re writing about Biology but are normally Philosophy faculty? Don’t get stuck on defining and debating the term; use the definition being used IN THIS COURSE, FOR THIS ASSIGNMENT: “someone who was either paid to do the research or has published peer reviewed material based on the research.” If you think you have evidence of this, and can explain or defend your decision to use the evidence, then you’ve done your work – there isn’t going to be one right answer.

 

Relevant Library Guides

The following guides will provide you with more information about the research skills required to complete this assingment.