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Identifying Scholarly Articles: Home

You may be required to limit your journal research to scholarly, academic, peer-reviewed/refereed journals.  But what does that mean?

  • "Academic" or "scholarly" refers to the authors and audience of the article.  These are articles written both by and for experts in a field.
  • "Peer-reviewed" or "refereed" refers to the process an article goes through in order to be published.  An expert has written it, but then it must be evaluated by that expert's peers or equals - other experts in the same field - who help decide whether the article should be published.

The guidelines below, as well as the example on the next two tabs, may help you distinguish scholarly articles from popular ones.

Characteristics of Scholarly and Popular Articles

Scholarly Journal Articles Popular Magazine Articles
Focus is narrow and specific. Focus of articles are broader
Articles include in-text citations and footnotes, with a bibliography or list of works cited. Rarely include notes or bibliographies 
Articles report on research done by the author(s). Articles may be oriented toward general information or entertainment
Articles are almost always peer-reviewed or "refereed" (reviewed by other experts prior to publication).  Check the journal's website if you're not sure. Articles are not reviewed prior to publication
Authors are always identified, and are subject experts Authors may not be identified, or are staff writers or journalists.
The audience is other experts - usually the language will use the terminology of the field. The audience is ordinary people, and the language is less specialized.
Graphics are used for purposes of illustration or to convey data Graphics and illustrations are used for impact and appeal, as well as illustration
There are little or no advertisements. Advertising is everywhere.


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