Sociology, Anthropology and Social Work

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Glossary of Terms

  • journal -a periodical containing scholarly articles and/or disseminating current information on research and development in a particular subject field
  • magazine -a periodical for general reading containing articles, stories, photographs and advertisements on a variety of subjects
  • peer-reviewed -see refereed journal
  • periodical -a serial appearing or intended to appear indefinitely at regular or stated intervals, generally more frequently than annually. Magazines, journals and newspapers are all periodicals.
  • refereed journal -a refereed journal has a structured reviewing system in which at least two reviewers, excluding in-house editors, evaluate each unsolicited manuscript and advise the editor as to acceptance or rejection. Refereed is used interchangeably with peer-reviewed in UlrichsWeb Global Serials Directory.
  • scholarly journal - a periodical containing articles written for and by experts in their chosen field and with a focus on a particular research interest. Scholarly journals are published in every academic discipline and are used as a means for scholars and researchers to share their research and discoveries with others who are also experts in their discipline.
  • serial -a publication in any medium issued in successive parts bearing numerical or chronological designations and intended to be continued indefinitely

Note: The definitions on this page are adapted from the ALA Glossary of Library and Information Science (except for "refereed journal").

Using webpages

Although you may find some, many webpages are not scholarly and may not be appropriate for academic work.  If your professor asks for scholarly, academic or peer-reviewed sources, stick to journal articles and books found in library databases or through Google Scholar (all disciplines).  If you do find a website that you feel is a good scholarly resource for your topic, ask your professor for approval before using it as a source.

Find a Journal's Status

Evaluating Information

Currency: The timeliness of the information.
Relevance: The importance of the information for your needs.
Authority: The source of the information.
Accuracy: The reliability, truthfulness and correctness of the content.
Purpose: The reason the information exists.
This information is adapted from Chico State University.

Library Databases or Google Scholar?

What are library databases?

Simply, they are the collections of electronic resources available through the library.  These resources are generally subscription-based, meaning access to them is paid for by the library and usually restricted to students and faculty.  The library's main search tool, OneSearch, is like a mega database because it contains over 90% of our research databases, including the print materials catalog, so that you can search a large pool and find relevant results from many different sources.  Some useful databases specific to anthropology include Anthropology Plus and JSTOR.

What can I find in a library database?

All sorts of things, from images and video or sound recordings, to ebooks, research articles from journals, reports, as well as news and popular magazine articles.  Some databases are indexes - primarily citations and abstracts with no full text articles.  These are still useful since we have Full Text Finder which will take you to an article if we have full text access in a different database.  

What is Google Scholar?

It's a valuable tool for doing research on the internet.  Google Scholar is not a database but rather a specialized search engine that looks for scholarly materials that may be available online.  Access to the full text of anything found with Google Scholar is not guaranteed but there are options.  Some materials are open source or otherwise freely available online.  You can also link Google Scholar to the UNF Library so that you can get access to items the library has in databases.  And if no free, full-text access is available online, you still have the information you need to check against the library databases, the print journal holdings in the library. or to request the item through interlibrary loan.

Which one should I use?

There's not a right or wrong answer here - unless your professor has prescribed one.  Since you can use either library databases or Google Scholar, or both in conjunction to easily locate suitable scholarly articles, your search terms/strategy, and evaluating what you find become more important in your research process.  Understanding what is possible with each tool and your own preference may guide you to the right tool for any given situation.

Still have questions or need advice on how to or where to search?

Consider booking an appointment to meet with a librarian.  Research consultations are a great way to orient yourself or to get assistance with working through a difficult research problem.  Librarians are available to meet in person or online upon request.