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Navigating the Research Process

What is peer-review?

Watch the video below to learn about peer-review. From the North Carolina State University Libraries, the video gives a short but useful explanation of peer-review.

This video is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States license. Published April 2014

Top image is of Leonardo DiCaprio from Titanic (Manuscript Submitted); bottom image is of him in The Revenant (Manuscript Accepted)

Peer-reviewing can be a very long process, to illustrate this, just ask our friend Leo!

If someone's article is rejected, they will try again after revising it according to the reviewers' suggestions. If it is accepted, they will see their work published in an issue of that journal. 

And so will other people who are interested in the same topic. 

But how will they find it?

This is where databases come in.


What is a database? 

  • a limited collection of information from published works such as magazines, newspapers and journals.
  • searchable by keyword, subject, author name, title of article, publication title, date
  • ​includes citation information like the author, title of article, publication title, publisher, date of publication
  • many times, includes the full-text of the article.
So a database is different than Google, right? Google is a search engine that scours the internet for web pages that were written by anyone. Databases have information and materials from people who are experts in their field, who have done experiments and conducted research that they share with the academic community.


If you think about all the articles or books written by scholars across the country you start to imagine how many items there are to look through. Databases make it easier to search through the scholarship hay stack to find the specific needles of information. They make it easier to find what experts have written about a specific topic. 

Libraries subscribe to different databases which range from general to subject-specific. For example, if you are a nursing student, CINAHL or TRIP are going to be better for you and not resources like Business Search Premier.

Some databases have newspaper and magazine articles from popular sources, which would not be peer-reviewed but could be helpful with gathering general information.


The SHU library homepage has all the information you need to start the scholarly portion of your search.

On the homepage we have direct access to our QuickSearch bar. This is a powerful search tool that helps you find all the information you need about a topic from all our library's resources. It's kind of like Google in that way, but you are only searching within what the SHU library has access to.

The Librarians at the SHU library created this quick video to explain some of the major features of QuickSearch.

Let's go back to your current assignment and the keywords you came up with to use for searching. You can take the keywords and plug them into QuickSearch to see what you get.

The Importance of Citations:

You might know what citations are and you are wondering why we're talking about them now---they go at the END of the paper. 

Part of researching at the college level means discovering what scholars have already said or done on a certain topic. You are using existing knowledge to (possibly) create new knowledge or at least put your two cents in about a subject. But you can't just take someone else's project, ideas, or results without giving credit to them. If you don't include proper citations and try to pass off other's ideas as your own, it is called plagiarism, which is a serious offense. (There should be a statement about Academic Integrity in the syllabus of each course you take.)

Your citations go at the end of your paper in the form of a bibliography, works cited, or references page. As you are writing you should be citing from your sources throughout your paper. You can't write your paper, and then attach a list of websites, book titles and journal articles without incorporating them all and call it good


Why are we bringing citations up now?

Well, it would make your life a million times easier if you start to keep track of your citations/sources from the beginning of your research project. And thankfully, we now live in a world where there are websites and software that can help you do just this. 

Tools are your friends

There are many options in the world of citation help, but here are two of our favorites. 

For quick citations, you can use Zotero's new tool ZoteroBib. Double-check your citations against one of our Citation Quick Guides to make sure everything looks good. 

Zotero is a free citation manager where you can save citation information into your Zotero library directly from your browser. If the full-text is available, Zotero will also save the pdf in your library so you don't have to worry about saving or emailing it to yourself. As you type your paper in Word, you can connect directly to your Zotero library so that you can cite while you write. And as you write, your bibliography or works cited page is automatically generated in your paper too. 

(Nerd alert/) Zotero is a really cool citation tool. When collecting your resources online, whether they are websites or online journal articles, Zotero will save ALL the information about them, including a copy of them. There is also a Word plugin that works with Zotero, so that you can type your paper, add citations in the style you want and then automatically generate a bibliography or works cited page. (/Nerd alert).

For more information, see our Zotero guide or talk to a librarian.

The Moral of the Story
Consider using ZoteroBib or setting up an account on Zotero (or any other citation tool that you may already know of) now. Start collecting your resources and you will literally save hours off the end of your research assignment.