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Postgraduates & Researchers

Guidance and Materials for Postgraduate Taught and students part of the Graduate School

Finding journals for your research

Conducting research at a University level involves being able to find reliable resources and be able to evaluate them.

This page takes you through some of the steps you should consider when finding sources in science based subjects and it is aimed at Postgraduates.

This content complements our interactive tutorials on the Learning Skills Hub finding resources page. We recommend you complete the Planning, Finding and Starting your Research tutorials if you need more help with using key words and developing search strategies. A link to the Finding Resources page available below.

Where are you looking for information?

The first step in finding credible resources is to make sure you are looking in the right places; places that would have more reputable sources of information rather than just using Google.

Aside from using UR Library Search to search for books and articles using keywords. You could also:

  • Use your module reading lists to see which authors and journals your tutors are recommending you use.
  • Explore the databases listed on your subject resources page - read the description of the content covered in each database to decide if the collection is relevant to your research area.
  • Use the  eJournals Finder tab on the Library home page to find journal titles relevant to your subject area. 
  • If you have found a good article for a topic take a look at their references and see what they have referred to, also known as citation chasing. You can also use an article to find more recent resources.
Activity:
Run a search on clinical nutrition in the eJournals Finder tab on the Library home page. How many relevant journal titles are listed? Try this with your topic area too.

 

Tip on using databases

Databases may hold a range of different types of materials. Take a look at the filters to help you refine results to the type of source you wish to use. 

Look for journal articles, research articles, academic journals.  Some databases may also have a 'peer reviewed' filter, or you may even be able to refine by type of research conducted, such as limiting to Randomised Control Trials in PubMed.

Examples of publication source type filters from Web of Science, Science Direct and Cinahl

Choosing journal articles to review - Tips

When researching at postgraduate level, you are expected to use databases to find relevant resources for modules that involve academic research. Some research modules may ask you to conduct systematic reviews, which is not covered in this guide.

More about Systematic Reviews
A systematic review is "a literature review focused on a research question that tries to identify, appraise, select, and synthesize all high-quality research evidence relevant to that question." (Bryne, 2017)
There are many resources available in the library on conducting systematic reviews including this primer article for clinical researchers .
Byrne, D. (2017) What is a systematic review? Project Planner. Available at: https://doi.org/10.4135/9781526408563 (Accessed: 12 May 2020).

 

Once you have conducted a search on a database like Web of Science, PubMed or Science Direct, you will be presented with list of search results. You can use the information presented to help you focus on relevant articles.

 

Scan the Title and Abstract

Scan the title and abstract of the articles to see if it is relevant to the area you want to research.

Example of abstract from Ovid Emcare. Keywords used in search are highlighted in yellow

Review the Subject Headings

Some databases includes lists of Subject Headings or Key words for a journal article. Reviewing these can help you to pick out further keywords to use when searching.

Examples of subject headings for an article

Citation Metrics

You may have heard the terms 'citation metrics', 'journal impact factor', 'research impact factor', or 'bibliometrics' mentioned previously. These are terms related to metrics developed to evaluate and assess research articles.

In the history of the development of such metrics, the first metrics were based on how often a piece of research was cited by other researchers in peer-reviewed journals.

These metrics have been used in academia to support academic promotions and in applications for funding.

Over time, further metrics have been developed that look at other factors such as how often they are cited in social media; these are known as alternative metrics or altmetrics, and researchers have also started using these in their research.

Blog post by Professor Fernando T Maestre on using altmetrics in his research proposal.


A more detailed history and overview of such metrics is available through UR Library Search

Lasda, E.M (2019) A brief history and overview, in Lasda, E.M. (ed.) The New Metrics: Practical Assessment of Research Impact. Bingley: Emerald Publishing, pp. 1-13. doi:10.1108/978-1-78973-269-620191001


Using metrics

There are a variety of metrics available. Here are two that are used in the science field.

SCOPUS  - gives you details of how often a journal article cited. Enter your subject area details to view list.

SCOPUS  help guides include descriptions of the different table headings presented.

Some databases such as Science Direct include altmetrics such as PlumX alongside the research article.

Science Direct altmetrics details on right side bar.

Descriptions of the PlumX metrics headings are available.

Thinking point
Should you use these metrics as the sole method for evaluating an journal article? What might be some of the pitfalls?

Critically Reading a Journal Article

Taking a look online, you will find much advice on reading a paper. Here are some general tips.

Useful tips on reading a paper

  • Check title and abstract for relevancy before continuing to read on.
  • Pay attention to the methodology and results.
  • Skim read the discussions and conclusions to get the author's opinions on what the results reveal, but remember you need to scrutinise the results yourself and see if you agree with the authors' conclusions.

This quick, four minute video goes through the creator's own way of reading a paper (journal article) which you may find useful. As they note, this might not work for all articles and all people, but it may be a useful starting point.


The below blog post by Jennifer Raff (an assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology, University of Kansas) goes through the steps of reading a scientific paper /journal article in more detail with guiding questions to help you make notes of each section.