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This guide will help you begin your research in Geology through the library's collections and beyond.

Why Articles?

Articles give you a short focused treatment of up-to-date content. Geological map of the United States in color, from the United Stated Geological SurveyThe articles in scholarly journals go through a peer-review process -- the articles are reviewed by academics and other experts before publication. The result is information that is more reliable.  As well as containing scholarly information, journal articles can include reports, reviews of current research, editorials and news or updates.

Use articles from scholarly journals when you need original authoritative research on a topic; articles and essays written by scholars or subject experts; factual documented information to reinforce a position; or references that point you to other relevant research.

Scholarly journals are published more quickly than books, although the peer-review process can be lengthy.


(A Tapestry of Time and Terrain, Vigil et al, 2000, USGS Investigations Series 2720.)

Related & Multidisciplinary Resources

In addition to the Top Picks on the Home tab, these databases include earth science and multi-disciplinary content:

Scholarly, Professional, Popular? Evaluate:

What kind of information do you need?  If you are writing for a class assignment, you may be required to use peer-reviewed ("refereed") or scholarly sources.  In any case, you should always look for sources that are authoritative.

Scholarly Checklist -- Look for:

  • Authors listed, with credentials
  • Bibliography, references, or works cited
  • Reviewed by peers or experts in the subject
  • Published by a reputable publisher
  • Purpose is to inform or impart knowledge, not to sell, persuade, entertain
  • Appears impartial--few or no advertisements, no emotional language, unbiased
  • Includes data, observations, statistics, or graphics to support conclusions
  • Includes specialized or technical language or concepts

Authoritative Checklist -- A source can have authority even if it isn't scholarly.

  • Author and/or publisher is an expert on the subject, for example:
    • Manufacturer's catalogs
    • Legal or regulatory information
  • Author's affiliations and contact information are available
  • Publisher or sponsoring organization is reputable (e.g., for websites, look for the domain; .gov or .edu sites are more likely to contain unbiased information)
  • Cites scholarly or high-quality sources in references list/bibliography

Other Criteria to Consider -- These are not definitive, but worthy of consideration:

  • Do you see errors in spelling, grammar, data?
  • Is the publication in turn cited by other credible works published later?
  • How current is the information? (No date? Be suspicious.)