Occupational Therapy

Guide to research in the area of occupational therapy. Also helpful for the areas of physical therapy, nursing, health, physiology and kinesiology.

Source Types - how do they differ?

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photo of newspapers

Newspapers

These articles are good both for finding recent information on a topic (what has happened in the last week or month) as well as finding out how historical events were reported in the past (for example, how was the AIDS crisis first reported in the 1980s?)

Appearance: 
  • Generally printed on newsprint in black ink.
Audience:
  • Written for the general public.
Author/Authority:
  • Articles written by staff writers and freelance journalists.
Citations:
  • Will sometimes cite sources, a scholar, or a freelance writer.
Content:
  • Includes current events and special features.
Frequency:
  • Usually published daily or weekly.

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photo of some popular magazine coversPopular Magazines

These articles are good for summarizing information on a topic for the general public.  They often provide a background, summarize research findings, and provide some analysis of a topic.

Appearance:
  • Generally attractive and illustrated with color photographs.
Audience:
  • Written for the general public.
Author/Authority:
  • Articles written by staff or freelance writer.
Content:
  • Includes current events and special features.
Frequency:
  • Usually published weekly or monthly.

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photo of trade journals

Trade Journals

*Sometimes called Professional Journals or Industry Journals

These articles are good to keep people in a particular field of work or trade (veterinarians, police officers, hotel managers, teachers, librarians, advertisers...etc.) up-to-date on trends in their line of work.  Articles often summarize and analyze findings from scholarly research.

Appearance: 
  • Generally attractive and are often illustrated with color photographs
Audience:
  • Written for industry professionals.
Author/Authority:
  • Articles written by staff writers, though the magazine may sometimes accept articles from industry professionals.
Citations:
  • Occasionally list references at the end of the article or provide footnotes within the text.
Content:
  • Includes current events and special features within a particular profession or industry.
Frequency:
  • Usually published biweekly or monthly.      

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a photo of some print journals

Scholarly journals

*Sometimes called Scholarly, Academic, Peer-reviewed or Refereed

These articles are good to find results of scientific or academic research.  They are written for scholars and provide in-depth analysis of a very specific area of your topic 

Appearance: 
  • Generally have a sober, serious look. May contain graphs and charts, but few glossy pages or photographs. Use scholarly language with vocabulary specific to their profession or field. May often have headings in article such as "literature review" "methods" "results" and "discussion." 
Audience:
  • Written for academics and professionals.
Author/Authority:
  • Articles written by researchers or scholars in the field who report the results of original research.
Citations:
  • Articles include footnotes and a list of citations at the end of the article.
Content:
  • Includes scholarly research for a particular profession or industry.
Frequency:
  • Usually published bimonthly or quarterly.

Images: All images in this tabbed box were taken by GRC librarians

Scholarly (Peer-Reviewed) Journal Checklist for OT

Go Deep

For a more detailed explanation and in-depth look at scholarly (peer-reviewed) journals see this guide:

OT Research Worksheet

Try It!

  1. Click to open each of these three publications:
  1. For each publication, answer the following questions:

    1. APPEARANCE - scrolling through each article, what visual differences jump out at you?  At a quick glance, how does each simply "look" different?

    2. CONTENT - what do you notice about article length, depth, vocabulary, subject matter?

    3. AUTHORITY - can you find the author's qualifications?  What are they?  Do you trust them?  Why?

    4.  AUDIENCE/PURPOSE - Who is this being published for?  What led you to that conclusion?

  2. Based on the evidence above, what type of source is each publication?  Choose A, B or C for each publication:

  • Arthritis Today is:
    • A) a scholarly journal
    • B) a popular magazine
    • C) a trade journal
  • OT Now is:
    • A) a scholarly journal
    • B) a popular magazine
    • C) a trade journal
  • Occupational Therapy International is:
    • A) a scholarly journal
    • B) a popular magazine
    • C) a trade journal