To locate high-caliber sources, one option is finding peer-reviewed/scholarly journal articles. Most databases have an option for limiting to peer reviewed. Consult each database for that search parameter.
Also be sure, when using essays and articles, to only select articles in art history journals (not in medical or other journals). Art is sometimes discussed across disciplines, but select a scholarly art journal.
If you are unsure if an article or a journal is scholarly or if its subject is art history, consult the UlrichsWeb resource. It will give the type of journal (look for peer reviewed/scholarly/academic) and will describe the subject matter.
Types of acceptable high-caliber sources are monographs, exhibition catalogs, Catalogues raisonnés, essays in scholarly books, and articles from art historical journals.
Peer Reviewed Articles in Peer Reviewed Journals
Peer-reviewed (refereed or scholarly) journals - Articles are written by experts and are reviewed by several other experts in the field before the article is published in the journal in order to insure the article’s quality. (The article is more likely to be scientifically valid, reach reasonable conclusions, etc.) In most cases the reviewers do not know who the author of the article is, so that the article succeeds or fails on its own merit, not the reputation of the expert.
Not all information in a peer-reviewed journal is actually refereed, or reviewed. For example, editorials, letters to the editor, book reviews, and other types of information don’t count as articles, and may not be accepted by your professor.
How do you determine whether an article qualifies as being a peer-reviewed journal article?
First, you need to be able to identify which journals are peer-reviewed. There are generally four methods for doing this
- Limiting a database search to peer-reviewed journals only.
Some databases allow you to limit searches for articles to peer reviewed journals only. For example, Academic Search Complete has this feature on the initial search screen - click on the pertinent box to limit the search. In some databases you may have to go to an “advanced” or “expert” search screen to do this. Remember, many databases do not allow you to limit your search in this way.
- Checking in the database UlrichsWeb to determine if the journal is indicated as being peer-reviewed.
If you cannot limit your initial search to peer-reviewed journals, you will need to check to see if the source of an article is a peer-reviewed journal. This can be done by searching the database Ulrichsweb.com. Go to the alphabetical listing of databases and click on the “U”. Select Ulrichsweb.com. It helps to type in the exact title of the source journal including any initial A, AN, or THE in the title. If you don’t find the journal you are interested in, you may want to utilize Method 3 below. If your journal title IS displayed, check to see if the journal is indicated as being refereed by having the symbol next to the title.
- Examining the publication to see if it is peer-reviewed.
If by using the first two methods you were unable to identify if a journal (and an article therein) is peer-reviewed, you may then need to examine the journal physically or look at additional pages of the journal online to determine if it is peer-reviewed. This method is not always successful with resources available only online. The following steps are suggested:
- Locate the journal in the Library or online, then identify the most current entire year’s issues.
- Locate the masthead of the publication. This oftentimes consists of a box towards either the front or the end of the periodical, and contains publication information such as the editors of the journal, the publisher, the place of publication, the subscription cost and similar information.
- Does the journal say that it is peer-reviewed? If so, you’re done! If not, move on to step d.
- Check in and around the masthead to locate the method for submitting articles to the publication. If you find information similar to “to submit articles, send three copies…”, the journal is probably peer-reviewed. In this case, you are inferring that the publication is then going to send the multiple copies of the article to the journal’s reviewers. This may not always be the case, so relying upon this criterion alone may prove inaccurate.
- If you do not see this type of statement in the first issue of the journal that you look at, examine the remaining journals to see if this information is included. Sometimes publications will include this information in only a single issue a year.
- Is it scholarly, using technical terminology? Does the article format approximate the following - abstract, literature review, methodology, results, conclusion, and references? Are the articles written by scholarly researchers in the field that the periodical pertains to? Is advertising non-existent, or kept to a minimum? Are there references listed in footnotes or bibliographies? If you answered yes to all these questions , the journal may very well be peer-reviewed. This determination would be strengthened by having met the previous criterion of a multiple-copies submission requirement. If you answered these questions no, the journal is probably not peer-reviewed.
- Find the official web site on the internet, and check to see if it states that the journal is peer-reviewed. Be careful to use the official site (often located at the journal publisher’s web site), and, even then, information could potentially be “inaccurate.”
If you have used the previous four methods in trying to determine if an article is from a peer-reviewed journal and are still unsure, speak to your instructor.