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HORT 4099 Horticulture Capstone: Finding Articles

Course guide for Hort 4099 and a great starting place for research.

Locating the RIGHT Article

We have already covered Peer-Review in Section One. However, we haven't really discussed where you can find Peer-Reviewed Articles. 

Where Do I Find Peer-Reviewed Articles?

Some library databases contain only articles from peer-reviewed journals, but many contain a mix of peer-reviewed journal articles, trade and popular magazine articles, newspaper articles, reports, and more. You may also be looking for more than just peer-reviewed journal articles and in that case, a mix isn't a bad thing. If you want only peer-reviewed articles, limit your search. Some databases offer a checkbox  that accomplishes this:

Keep in mind that even within scholarly journals, there are non-peer-reviewed articles such as book reviews and editorials. These will be in your results when you apply this limiter.

How Do I Know if the Article I've Found is Peer-Reviewed?

Peer-reviewed journal articles usually have the following elements:

  • Written by an expert in that subject area. Check the credentials of the author.
  • Contain a literature review to engage with previous research within the field.
  • Contain a list of references either in footnotes or a bibliography.


  1. Try a different database: If you were using a subject-specific database, try Discovery or Academic Search Complete.
  2. Use fewer search terms or make the terms more general: Try a small number of keywords. Based on the results, determine if you need to add more terms or try different terms.
  3. Brainstorm synonyms and add them to your search with OR between them: For example: salary OR pay OR wages OR earnings
  4. Broaden your topic: You may not need to choose a different topic, but you may need to think more broadly about your topic.
  5. Consider if your topic is too recent. You're not going to find peer-reviewed articles on something that happened a few months ago, but you might find newspaper and magazine articles. 



  1. Look at your search terms. Can they be more specific? Do you have too few terms? 
  2. Check how your terms are combined. Make sure you are not using OR between terms that mean different things, for example women OR salary, which will get you a lot of irrelevant results. 
  3. Consider if your topic is too broad. You may need to narrow in on more specific aspects of your topic and search these individually.
  4. Can you apply limiters? Limiters (such as date and format) give you a more targeted results list. Do you need to only use scholarly peer-reviewed articles? Should your sources be fairly recent? Most databases have ways to limit your results. 





When you first have an assignment or a paper for class where is the first place you go?

Is it Google? 


Both of these answers are great answers!

You have to start somewhere. In order to have a working knowledge of your topic, you might need to read some background information on your topic. Google and Wikipedia are both excellent resources of information, however sources such as encyclopedias and dictionaries are also great starting places. 

Without a big picture of your topic, you may not understand it well enough to know how to narrow or broaden your topic to a research question. If you start off by reading journal articles, you will find a specific perspective on one small piece of the puzzle like the blindfolded people asked to touch different parts of an elephant then describe it. 

Encyclopedias, Google, and Wikipedia provide background about a topic so you can confidently discuss the topic and the general issues surrounding it. While reading these entries, make a list of the places, people, organizations, or controversies surrounding your topic. 


Finding Newspaper Sources

Finding Newspaper Sources

Newspapers cover current events and contain both descriptive news stories and editorials that include individuals' opinions on current events. Newspaper articles are usually written by professional journalists who are not experts in the areas they write about, but they usually do considerable research and/or interview the people involved for each story.

Newspapers provide:

  • Coverage of current or very recent events
  • Eyewitness accounts of an event
  • In-depth coverage of local issues (in local or regional newspapers) 
  • The public's reaction to a specific event or issue
  • The media's current portrayal, or portrayal over time, of a specific issue

Newspapers can be found in many of the Libraries' databases. In our largest multidisciplinary database, Discovery, when you do a search, you can limit your results to just newspapers:

If you don't limit to newspapers, those items that are newspapers will be labeled as News just to the left of the article title:

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