When scientists have information or an experiment to add to the body of knowledge in their field of study, they usually write up their findings for inclusion in a scientific journal. Before it is published, these articles go through a process of peer review.
Because articles in scientific journals are specific, meticulously cited and peer-reviewed, journal databases are the best place to look for information on previous research on your species. Without a background in the field, journal articles may be hard to understand - however, you do not need to understand an entire article to be able to get valuable information from it.
Search tip: Reading a journal article may lead you to a number of other journal articles on closely related topics. When reading a journal article, mark the citations that you are interested in. Later, you can look up those articles to continue your search.
The most common type of journal article you will find in the sciences deals with primary research. These articles describe an original experiment or analysis that adds to current knowledge a particular topic. These articles will include background information, the methods the scientist used, a description of the results, and an analysis of what the results mean in the context of current knowledge.
Review articles synthesize current research on a specific topic. Often an article will summarize past research, identify important people in the field, outline recent advances, and point out gaps in a body of knowledge - they do not report original research.
Review articles are a great resource if you're looking for an overview of a small topic, with complete and current information. Review articles are usually well-cited, so they can often provide a starting point for more extensive research.
Articles in peer-reviewed journals are reviewed by a group of the author's peers (other experts/academics in that field) before the articles are published.
How do you know if an article is peer reviewed? Some databases allow you to limit your search to peer-reviewed journals. For other databases like Web of Science, you need to look up the title of the journal in Ulrich's Directory.
For example, The Journal of Infectious Diseases is peer reviewed.
REMEMBER: You are looking for the JOURNAL TITLE in your search results, NOT the article title.
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