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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Neurosciences Research and Scholarship

This guide provides an access point for library resources and services for research and scholarship in the area of neurosciences. It is intended for use by students and faculty.

Getting Started

  • What is it that you are looking for?
  • Do you need a few articles that provide an current or historical overview?
  • Do you need to do exhaustive research on a focused topic?
  • Are you wanted to see what others have done in a particluar topic area?


For in-depth literature searching:

  • It often helps to frame your research topic as a question; consider the who, what, when, where and how or how much.
  • Identify each major concept of your question. You can use these concepts to forumulate  your search strategy.
  • For each concept, consider the most specific terms or key words that you could use to describe that concept. Each of these strings then becomes a single search statement.

Literature Review

A review of the literature is often necessary in order to survey and analyze current (you determine time frame) literature relating to a particular issue, problem, theory, methodology, model, framework, etc.

A thorough literature review involves a comprehensive search of all known/findable scholarly literature that addresses the topic. In some cases other types of sources, such as books or book chapters, theses or dissertations, “gray literature” such as technical reports, documents, media, social media, or conversations  may also be appropriate.

The written review provides a summary and analysis of this literature in order to put research into a context, to explain what has been done to date, and/or to identify gaps or missing elements. 

Peer Review

A refereed or peer reviewed publication is one that has been evaluated by experts the field prior to publication. Refereed materials are significant to the research and the literature of most academic fields because they assure readers that the information conveyed is reliable and timely.

In contrast, articles submitted to non-refereed materials such as Trade Journals or Magazines are accepted or rejected based on the judgement of the editor. 

The term "scholarly publication" is often used to describe refereed materials, but this term is not exclusive to refereed material. Non-refereed materials may not by scrutinized as intensely as refereed materials, but they can still be considered scholarly.

Most biomedical research is reported/published in academic or scholarly (refereed) publications and and the articles have completed the peer-review process.

To determine if a journal is refereed, you can;

  • Visit the journal's web site (search Google using quotation marks around the title)
  • Limit database search results to "peer reviewed" literature
  • Search for the journal title in Ulrich's International Serials Directory

Other clues:

  • Little or no advertising  Any advertising that is included will directly relate to the field.
  • Black & White Text Refereed publicaitons are mostly black and white text with very few photographic material. Articles often include tables, charts and graphs.
  • Table of contents  will list research articles and non-research material such as editorials, book reviews, literature reviews, and essays.
  • Publishing Refereed journals are typcially published weekly,  monthly, quarterly, or annualy, often by a professional society, organization or research institution - once a week, once a month, every quarter, or annually. The majority of journals are published four to six times per year and are often published by a professional society, organization or research institution.
  • Editorial board Refereed journals have a peer review process. The editorial board is listed along with the organizations they are affiliated with. Information about what types of papers are chosen for publication, the selection process, the length of papers accepted, and how to submit a paper is also provided.
  • Indexing Information will include sources where the journal is indexed.