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PN 115 Information Literacy Program

What is the difference between a popular source such as a magazine and a peer reviewed source / journal?

Magazines are written for the general public.  They often have a lot of advertisements in them.

Journals, on the other hand, are targeted to students or professionals working in a particular field.  The usually have very few ads in them.  The articles usually include bibliographies at at the end and the author's or authors' credentials (where they went to college and where they work) are given.

Sometimes a publication is peer-reviewed which means that all of the articles have been read and approved for publication by experts in the field.

Peer reviewed materials are excellent sources of information for scholarly papers!

Peer reviewed = Articles read & approved for publication by experts in the field


Experts = People with advanced degrees in the subject or who have worked in the field for many years


Popular sources such as magazines & newspapers


Peer reviewed materials

A peer reviewed source does not have to be a journal. Recently, the University of Michigan Press published A. D. Carson’s new i used to love to dream, a peer-reviewed hip-hop album. 


Examples of scholarly journals, trade magazines, and popular magazines


different between peer reviewed and popular magazi

The chart above is from the article cited below. (Reading the article is not required!)

APA citation shown in a Word document


Library Databases

Finding articles from peer reviewed journals and other sources is most efficiently accomplished by using the library databases. 

The library databases: 

  • Tell you where the information came from: a book, magazine, journal, newspaper, or video, for example.  
  • Tell you the original date of publication/production. This information is called the citation.  Be sure to write down or copy and paste all of the information listed below whenever you read, save, or print an article so that you will have it available for your Works Cited page.

More information about APA citation style format can be found at the APA Citation Style library research guide. 

Why use the library databases instead of Google to find research materials for your papers or projects?

To save time finding full text scholarly sources of information!

The SC4 library subscribes to over 200 databases. The full list is available. You can search the databases individually or search them all at once by using the OneSearch box found on the library homepage. We will discuss using the OneSearch box later in this program. Sometimes, it is easiest to use a subject specific database to find information. The SC4 library subscribes to a number of excellent nursing and health science databases which will  be described in the next section.