Skip to Main Content

Respiratory Care Research

This course guide was created to assist students in research on respiratory care issues.

Scholarly, Substantive, and Popular Sources

Is It an Academic Journal?

Your instructor may require that you use scholarly articles in your research. These articles are also known as academic, or peer-reviewed articles. What she is asking you to use are journals that contain articles written by scholars in order to develop the body of knowledge in the subject areas in which they specialize.

This video clip from The Peabody Library will help you identify scholarly sources so that if your instructor requires you to use only scholarly sources, you'll know what she is talking about.

What is a Medical or Nursing Journal?

What is a medical journal?

"Medical journals are publications that report medical information to physicians and other health professionals. With the development of electronic publishing, many medical journals now have Web sites on the Internet, and some journals publish only online. A few medical journals, like JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association, are considered general medical journals because they cover many fields of medicine. Most medical journals are specialty journals that focus on a particular area of medicine." 

What is a nursing journal? 

Nursing class assignments usually ask you to find current articles from nursing journals. It's fairly straightforward if the words nurse or nursing appears in the journal title (e.g., AJN American Journal of Nursing). But if not, you may need to do some critical thinking or investigate further. 

If you are using one of the library's databases (such as CINAHL), you can click on the title of the article to see its full record.

  • under the Source field, click on the Journal Title.
    • the next screen will include a description that may help you determine if this is a nursing journal.
      • under the Journal Subset field, you may see "nursing," or you may see some other categories (e.g., public health, biomedical) that may indicate the journal is multidisciplinary and not strictly a nursing journal.

screenshot of CINAHL publication details showing Journal Subset: Nursing to help indicate if a journal can be considered a nursing journal

You can also do a web search for the title of the journal to find the journal's website. 

  • look for the "about" information for the journal, which often will indicate either the intended audience or the responsible organization.
    • if the intended audience includes groups other than nurses or a specialty of nursing like Midwifery, the journal is most likely considered multidisciplinary and not strictly a nursing journal.
    • if the responsible organization is a nursing association/society, that's a good indication that it would be considered a nursing journal. (An example is MedSurg Matters, the official newsletter of the Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses and contains peer-reviewed articles as well as news items). 

Keep in mind that you may find journal articles that are not from nursing journals but that you want to include in your paper.  As long as you've met the requirements for the total number of current nursing journal articles, using other articles or information from non-journal sources is usually just fine, as long as they are considered professional, current, authoritative sources. 

For more information on how to limit your CINAHL searches to nursing journals, connect with librarian Stella Beratlis, the liaison to the School of Allied Health and Fitness Professions. 

Levels of Evidence