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ME 4421: Biomechanical Engineering


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Bethany Spieth

Library Databases to Find Articles

Scholarly, Trade and Popular Publications

Professors will often ask you to find articles that are scholarly.  What does that mean? Journal articles are usually "scholarly" while magazine articles are "popular".  Trade publications are specific publications that are targeted to people who work in specific industries for example: the advertising business.  

Criteria Scholarly Journal Trade Publication Popular Magazine
Sample Cover scholarly journal cover cover of trade publication cover of popular magazine
Sample First Page of Article first page of scholarly article first page of article in trade journal First page of popular magazine article
Title of Article "Gender, toys and learning" "Toy Story" "The Truth About Boys and Girls"
Title of Publication Oxford Review of Education Professional Engineering Baby Talk
Purpose of Publication "Articles and review articles on the theory and practice of education from scholars throughout the world in disciplines including philosophy, political science, economics, history, anthropology, sociology, psychology and medicine." "Addresses the news & technology that impacts on the business & careers of professional engineers in all sectors of engineering & manufacturing." "Publishes articles on a mix of news and advice on the challenges of new motherhood from experts and moms who "tell it like it is.""
Audience Scholars and researchers in the particular field of study.   People in the business General audience.
Authors Scholars and researchers (generally not paid).   Paid staff writers, professionals and vendors in the field.   Paid journalists, staff writers and freelance writers.  
Editors Journal editors and peer reviewers. Staff editors. Staff editors.
Works Cited/References Almost always. Sometimes. Rarely.

Table adapted from a table created by NCSU Libraries.  

Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Literature

How to Find the "Best" Journals

How do I know if a journal is important and respected in its field?

Most scholars and professors are familiar with the top journals in their fields but as a beginning researcher it is hard to know which journals are important.  To find respected journals in a field, try the following:

  • Look for journals from professional associations, for example: journals from the American Chemical Society. 
  • Ask your professor which journals are well respected in his or her field.  
  • Another criteria to use is a journal's impact factor.  For more about what impact factors are, see below.  

Impact Factor

Impact factor measures the number of articles cited from a journal in a particular year.  The assumption is that a journal which has many articles cited in other research is a journal in which important or highly valued research is being published.  

The impact factor is just one way to measure the importance of a journal and some scholars feel too much weight has been given to this measurement.  Use cautiously and in conjunction with other measurements.  

There are two algorithms for measuring impact Factor ISI's Impact Factor and the Eigenfactor.  Both can be found utilizing the Journal Citation Reports from Thomson Reuters.