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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Research Articles and Peer Reviewed Journals

A step-by-step guide to understanding and finding research articles and peer reviewed journals

Getting Started

How can one determine if an article is a research article and/or from a refereed journal? To answer this question, students must understand:

  • the definitions of various types of research;
  • the components of a research article;
  • what defines a refereed journal;
  • and how to search for appropriate research articles and refereed journals.

What is Research?

The Importance of Research

  • Research tests assumptions, observations, and creates new knowledge.
  • Research provides the theoretical framework needed to understand the information reported by individual practitioners.

Types of Research
Research is sometimes hard to identify because there are many types of research. In general, research is conducted through one or more of the following forms of data collection:

  • Observation
  • Questionnaires
  • Interviews
  • Content Analysis
  • Historical Source Analysis
  • Controlled Experiments

Many types of specific research exist. Two major types of research are: 

  • Basic Research: Research that seeks to create new knowledge and is not directly related to technical or practical problems. An example of basic research is a study conducted to analyze the types of information systems physicians use. This research provides new knowledge about a particular user group but does not specify a way this knowledge can be used to solve a problem. 
  • Applied Research: Research that seeks to solve problems practitioners face. Using a variety of techniques, this research aims to develop solutions and recommendations that can be used to improve practices. A study conducted on how information systems can be used to improve the ability of physicians to more accurately diagnose illnesses is an example of applied research.

Questions to Ask Your Professor

  1. How recent does the research article need to be?
  2. Does the research article need to be from a journal within your discipline?
  3. Will your professor check that your research article is acceptable?
  4. Are there specific journals or databases they recommend searching?
  5. Are there any specific types of research (case study, observational) that are unacceptable or are particularly relevant to this assignment?
  6. Can the research article come from an online source?
  7. Does your professor have a sample research article or refereed journal to show you?