RMOT 191 & 192: An Introduction: Indentifying Journal Articles on the Web
Identifying Sources on the Web
This tutorial will review the characteristics of a journal article found on the web, which was obtained as a result
of a search on the topic: illegal trade in wildlife.
1. Example: (URL: http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0051156).
When searching for information on the Web, you'll find a range of different sources which you'll need
to identify in order to determine if they are appropriate for your academic use. The information
available on the main page usually provides clues. The first clue tells us that this is an Open Access (OA)
item, meaning you can access it on the Web. OA also usually refers to peer-reviewed journal articles.
2. On the same page are three clues indicating that this resource is a journal article.
3. What is the title of this journal?
4. Scroll down the page to the Abstract at the beginning of the article.
The left sidebar lists the sections of the paper and identifies this article as a research paper (not a theoretical
paper or a review paper.) Research papers usually include the following sections:
the Abstract (summarizing the paper), the Introduction (describing what the authors intend to research,
as well as previous, relevant research published on the topic), the Methods (how the authors intend to conduct
the research, the Results (the data or information collected), a Discussion (about the results they found
and how these results relate to what is already known about this topic), and a Reference list (other authors'
research papers discussed in this article).
5. Continue scrolling down the page. This Abstract section also provides the citation information for this research
paper. From it, you can confirm that the journal title is Plos One. The presence of a DOI (Digital Object
Identifier) also idicates that this source is a journal article.
*Depending on the web journal, the article citation may be located on the main page, OR it may be located off a link on the site, OR it may not be included at all - so you'll need to look around to try to find it.
Citation example for this article:
Hansen ALS, Li A, Joly D, Mekaru S, Brownstein JS. 2012. Digital surveillance:
a novel approach to monitoring the illegal wildlife trade. PLoS ONE 7(12):
Note: For RMOT 191/192 courses, instructors request students to use the print format when citing books and journal articles (regardless of whether they were in print or electronic format.)
This brief tutorial identifies the characteristics of an online journal article found on the web.
You should now have enough information to identify this type of online source and to cite it in your
own research paper.