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Health Care Assistant (HCA) - Kelowna - 2024

This LibGuide is designed to introduce HCA students to the OC Library resources and services.

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What is a scholarly journal?

What is a Scholarly Journal?

A scholarly journal (also called academic journals, scientific journals, or peer reviewed journals) is a periodical that publishes articles written by experts in a particular field of study. Journals are similar magazines except the articles are written by researchers. Journals and magazines are considered periodicals because they are published continuously over time. The articles are written for experts or students of the field, and use academic or technical language. "Peer-reviewed (also called refereed) journals have an editorial board of subject experts who review and evaluate submitted articles before accepting them for publication. A journal may be a scholarly journal but not a peer-reviewed journal." [1]

Image of three academic journals

Databases provide access to articles that are unavailable on the open Internet. Article databases contain both popular & scholarly articles, and they are used to find journal, magazine and newspaper articles. Although they deliver content online, the content is paid for through library subscriptions. Some databases only include descriptions (citations and/or abstracts) of articles with "Where can I get this?" links, whereas other databases contain links to the full text of the article. 

Strategies for finding articles in the Library:

  • Use OCtopus for a 'Google-like' experience

  • Use a specific database, such as Academic Search Premier, that will only contain information related to your subject area.

  • Search within a relevant journal. For example, if you want Canadian sources, searching within a Canadian journal would help focus a search.

TIP: When you find a journal article that is relevant to your research/writing, check the reference list to find similar articles.

Parts of an Academic Research Article

Research articles tend to have 6 or 7 parts, each part is normally labeled.

  • Abstract: This first part of the article, normally at the top and set apart from the rest of the article. The abstract describes what the article is about. 

  • Introduction:The first part of the actual text, it explains why the researchers selected the topic to study and why it is important.

  • Literature Review: In this section the authors discuss research that is important to their study, this section can be long or short. Sometimes the introduction and literature review sections are combined.

  • Methods & Data Analysis: The methods portion of the article explains how the researchers actually conducted the research. Often it will include information on the participants and data collection methods used. They will also explain how the data was analyzed. This section may also include limitations of the research.

  • Results: This is where the authors tell you what they found.

  • Discussion: Here the authors discuss how their findings (results) tie back into the other research done in the field and why what they found is important. They may also give ideas for further research.

  • References: This sections includes all the references to items cited within the body of the article.

Why should I use databases rather than a search engine like Google?

The open Internet only holds a small percentage of the information stored online. Using Library sources gives you access to private information, such as:

  • Book content

  • Original, primary, and historical documents

  • Subscribed content

  • Copyright protected material

Advantages to searching within databases as a research strategy: 

  • Databases are often limited by academic discipline, which may give you fewer, but more relevant, results.

  • Databases are highly structured, which means you can perform complex searches using controlled vocabulary.

TIP: Searching databases with the keywords recommended in this research guide is a good starting strategy. However, be aware that some databases may use different terminology. When you find a relevant article, check the subject headings and article description for terminology that could be useful in a new keyword search.

Journals (Scholarly/Academic/Peer-Reviewed)

  • Value & Use: Reports of original research (theoretical, experimental or applied) with in-depth analysis of subject

  • Authorship: Scholars, academics, researchers - Names, credentials, and contact information provided.

  • Sources: All sources cited in bibliographies, footnotes etc.

Magazines (Popular)

  • Value & Use: General information on current topics, commentary on political and social issues, entertainment

  • Authorship: Wide variety including specialists, journalists, staff and freelance writers, name and credentials sometimes provided. 

  • Source: Original sources usually obscure, no citations given.

Professional, Trade, & Industry Magazines

  • Value & Use: Current trends, theoretical & ethical issues, news & events in particular field, industry or profession - Often contain product, company & biographical information.

  • Practitioners or journalists with subject expertise

  • Sources: Sources often cited but not always in full


  • Value & Use: Local and regional focus on current events and news often with some analysis and opinion.

  • Authorship: Journalists (name sometimes given, rarely with credentials)

  • Sources: Sometimes cited but rarely in full


About Peer Review

Peer review is designed to assess the validity, quality and often the originality of articles for publication. Its ultimate purpose is to maintain the integrity of scholarly knowledge by filtering out invalid or poor-quality articles.

Key Journals + Magazines

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