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GGRC26: Geographies of Environmental Governance

This guide will help you find scholarly sources to support your annotated bibliography and final research paper.

Popular vs. Scholarly Sources

Not sure if the source you found is popular or scholarly? Use the criteria below to evaluate it.

  Description Example
Popular Source (Non-Scholarly)
  • Written by a generalist (e.g. journalist or feature writer)
  • Informs or entertains the general public
  • Often presented in story format, with anecdotes from other people
  • Language is casual, with few technical terms
  • Text may contain vague mentions to studies or research, but may not have detailed references
  • Content not critically evaluated by subject experts
  • Newspapers
  • Magazines
  • Trade journals
  • Popular books
Scholarly Source (Academic)
  • Written by a scholar or researcher in the field
  • Disseminates research and academic discussion among scholars and researchers within the discipline
  • Presented in a structured, standard style
  • Language is formal and technical
  • References are always cited
  • Texts go through editorial or peer review
  • Academic books
  • Journals and journal articles

What is Peer Review?

Peer review is a process in which scholars critically appraise each other's work, in order to determine if a scholarly journal article should be published in a peer-reviewed journal. Each paper submitted to the journal is read and evaluated by subject experts for validity, importance, and originality. The purpose of peer review is to improve the quality and readability of the paper, and to ensure that only high-level research and scholarship is published in the journal.

A couple of reminders about peer review:

  • Peer-reviewed articles are also called "refereed."
  • Not all of the content in a peer-reviewed journal has undergone peer review. For example, editorials, letters to the editor, book reviews, and other types of information are not peer-reviewed. However, research and review articles are generally peer-reviewed.
  • Only scholarly articles are peer-reviewed. Academic books do not go through the peer review process, but they are still scholarly sources.

Is Your Journal Article Peer-Reviewed?

How can I tell if an article is peer-reviewed?

Peer-reviewed articles are published in peer-reviewed journals. The easiest way to make sure that you're searching for peer-reviewed journals is by applying the peer-review limiter during your search. A peer-review box or tab is available in many databases.

An example of the peer-review limiter in a ProQuest database

Another way to check if a journal is peer-reviewed is to look it up in Ulrich's Periodicals Directory (also known as UlrichsWeb). Ulrich's is a database that contains information about periodicals, such as journals, newspapers, magazines, and more. One of the pieces of information Ulrich's contains is whether or not a journal is peer-reviewed (also known as refereed).


Looking up a journal in Ulrich's Periodicals Directory

1. Open Ulrich's Periodicals Directory.

2. Ulrich's maintains information at the journal level. This means that you need to search it by journal title, not article title. Type in the journal's title in the search box, and click the green search button. 

For example, if you wanted to know if the article "On Geography and Encounter: Bodies, Borders, and Difference," published in the journal Progress in Human Geography, was peer-reviewed, search for Progress in Human Geography in Ulrich's.

3. In Ulrich's, peer-reviewed journals are called "refereed" journals. In the search results, an icon of a referee's jersey (a striped shirt) indicates that a journal is peer-reviewed/refereed. 

Since Progress in Human Geography has an icon of a referee's jersey listed next to it, this means that the journal is peer reviewed.

4. Remember that not every article published in a peer-reviewed journal is peer-reviewed. Articles like editorials and books reviews don't go through the peer-review process. However, research articles are peer-reviewed.