Finding information

La Trobe University Library La Trobe Library

Finding information

La Trobe University Library La Trobe Library

La Trobe University Library La Trobe Library

Finding information


What is a scholarly or peer-reviewed journal article?

A scholarly journal article is an article written by someone with academic qualifications or expert knowledge and aimed at a scholarly audience. They often report original research findings.

This video explains the characteristics that make an academic journal and compares them to magazines, newspapers and trade journals. (Duration: 2:49) 

What does peer-reviewed mean?

Peer-reviewed articles, also called refereed journal articles, are a particular type of scholarly article which have undergone extra checking by experts in the field prior to publication.

How do you find peer-reviewed journal articles?

If searching in a library database:

Check to see if there is a box on the database search page that allows you to limit your search results to: Refereed/Peer-reviewed journal articles.   

This image shows the Peer reviewed filter in the Library Search. Using this option will only show results from Peer-reviewed journals.

If you want to check specific journal titles/articles here are some options: 
  • Look at the article itself for a header or similar which indicates refereed or reviewed.
  • Look at the table of contents of the journal. Often items are grouped under a heading like "reviewed articles".
  • Check the journal's website to see if a statement is made about the content being Peer Reviewed or Refereed. Although be aware that not all the contents of a refereed journal will be refereed (e.g. books reviews, practice, commentaries, editorials).
  • Go to, under "Quick Search" drop to "Title (keyword)" and type in the journal title. Next to journal titles which include at least some refereed content is the image of a “referees shirt". Also you can click on the journal title and you will see down the page "Refereed - yes or no".

Books and eBooks

If you are looking for an overview of a topic, academic books are a useful place to start. These books are more likely to contain introductory information than peer reviewed journals. Also many have chapters arranged for you to progress through in a logical order. La Trobe Library gives you access to many, many physical books and eBooks. This video will show you how to find them in Library Search. (Duration: 1:58)

Primary, secondary and tertiary resources

You may be asked to find information for your assessments including original documents or interpretations of documents.  To successfully construct and confirm your research and findings, it is important to distinguish between information which is described as primary, secondary or tertiary. 

Primary resources

A primary source is material that was produced at the time of a particular event or period. It is a contemporary account by someone who witnessed first hand or experienced the event in question.

Primary sources can include the following:

  • original Documents (correspondence, diaries, autobiographies, journals, interviews, government documents, oral histories, speeches, manuscripts and other types of unpublished work)
  • creative Works (artwork, audiovisual recordings, photographs, poetry or drama)
  • artefacts (pottery, buildings, furniture etc).

Secondary resources

Secondary sources interpret and analyse primary sources. They are created after the event took place and frequently attempt to analyse the primary source material by putting it into historical context. Secondary sources frequently discuss or evaluate a particular event or issue and the work is usually published in books, journal articles or encyclopedias etc.

Tertiary resources

A tertiary source is a synthesis of primary and/or secondary sources.  Dictionaries and atlases are examples of tertiary sources.

Still have questions? Talk one-on-one with a Librarian.

Further resources

Other sections of Achieve@Uni have information about Reading and Note-taking.