When your instructor requires "peer reviewed " research it is because that is considered the best standard for academic research.
Peer review is what it sounds like: an author submits an article to a journal and peers review it and determine whether or not the research and the write-up of that research is accurate, appropriate to the field, is supported by the research, furthers research in the field, and is also well-written to convey the information to those reading it.
The peers then suggest the article be published without changes, published with changes, the author rework some areas and resubmit it for publication, or that it shouldn't be published in that particular journal.
Before you begin your research, you'll need to think about what words and phrases you want to use (your keywords)--this is sometimes the most challenging, especially for students used to asking a question in Google or typing a whole sentence into a search bar.
Keywords need to be both specific enough to help you find appropriate research, but also not so specific that you can't find appropriate research. Think of it this way: if you're researching how tablets can be integrated into the elementary school classroom, you could use "tablets" and "elementary" and "classroom" as your keywords. Try that and see what you get, but also think about other phrases: technology, children, education, etc. Those other words aren't as specific as your first set, but you will probably find information using those terms, too. "Tablets" might be too specific for some research--they might look at technology in the classroom as a whole, but tablets would be part of that and you could use that information.
If your research assignment required "peer reviewed" or "academic journals," it's quite easy to ensure your sources meet that requirement.
Start with the databases available to you through Muskingum University:
On the left side of the Library's website, click on "Databases." You'll see this image, with the alphabet below it:
If you already know the name of the database you should use, click on the letter appropriate to the first letter of the database and scroll until you find the one you want.
If you don't know which database(s) to use, the "All Subjects" pull-down menu is very helpful. Using that pull-down menu, look for your academic subject field (English, Sociology, Physics etc.) and click on the academic subject. If you're looking for a specific type of resource, for example, newspapers, the use the second pull-down for your type of resource. The "Best Bets" from either search will be grouped at the top of the result. Please note that the databases are in alphabetical order, so the first database isn't always the BEST one. For a good search of resources, you should never limit yourself to just one database if multiple databases are suggested.
If you're doing general research or are taking an introductory course, consider using "Academic Search Complete" as your starting resource: it's a great general database.
Once you have your keywords (and be open to rethinking your words and phrases--if you can't find anything with your keywords, what are other words you could use? If you're stuck, talk with your instructor or a librarian), you'll need to put them into the search engine so the database can pull up articles for you.
Most databases are designed the same way, with search boxes:
Enter your search terms into the boxes. (Hint: You can use a "wildcard" to increase your options. Instead of putting "technologies" in the search bar, if you put "technolog*" the search will include anything with "technolog" in the word, giving you searches with both "technology" and "technologies.")
The drop-down "and" allows you to perform a Boolean search, which helps you limit information. The options are "and," "not," and "or." So, if you find researching "technology" and "elementary" and "classroom" is bringing up articles about smart boards, you can always click the + sign on the right, which will add another search bar, type "smart board*" into the empty box, then make the pull-down "not." Click "search" and you should have eliminated articles about smart boards.
Once you've hit "search" on the database, your results will appear and, more than likely, you will find that you have access to many articles.
Here are some ways to make the number more manageable:
On the left side of the screen, there are many limiters--ways you can eliminate some sources. The more you use these options, the more comfortable you'll be with them, but always consider the following:
These are just a few suggestions--the more research you do, the more you'll "play" within the databases and you'll know how to limit your searches. Researching is like many things: the more you do it, the better you'll be at it.
Once you have limited the results, you'll need to know how to "read" the results. You will probably see articles listed like these:
Click on the title of the article and you will be able to learn more about the article. You can read an abstract (a summary of the article that helps you decide if you need to read this article), see the subject terms (clicking on those terms might help you find more articles), and you'll see the information you need to write your citation. You will also see how you can access the article.
In the first case, you can just click on the "PDF Full Text" image on the left and you'll have a copy of the article.
In the second article, click on the "Full Text via OhioLINK EJC Full Text" link and it will take you to the article through another source. Sometimes you will have to click a second link on the page that appears to reach the full text. Be patient and read the instructions--don't give up!
In the third, you don't have immediate access to this article, but you can request it by clicking on the link and then entering your information. An interlibrary loan request can take up to 7-10 days to come in, so be aware of that. This is why it's good to start your research early--some of the best information might not be available immediately.
Most databases give you an opportunity to print, email, or download the article. Each database does it a little differently, so just be aware you'll have those options--again, practice helps!
If you already know the name of the journal you want to use for your research, from the library's main page, click on the "Journals" tab in the Muskie Scholar search area. The box changes to look like this:
Type the name of the journal in the box and cllick "search." If we have access to that journal in our resources, you'll see the way or ways you can access the journal, as well as the available dates.
To make the most out of Google scholar, do the following to see which articles you have access to (for free!) through the Muskingum University resources.
Click on the three horizontal bars on the left side of Google Scholar. Then click on "Settings."
On the next screen, click on "Library Links."
Type "Muskingum University" into the search bar and click the magnifying glass image to search. "Muskingum University Library--Find It! @ Muskingum" will appear below the search bar.
Click the box in front of that and click "save." Your Google Scholar Searches will now let you know if you can access an article for free via the Muskingum resources.