This is the "Scholarly, Or Not?" page of the "Scholarly Articles: Finding and Recognizing" guide.
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Scholarly Articles: Finding and Recognizing  

Last Updated: Jan 18, 2012 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts
Scholarly, Or Not? Print Page

What is a scholarly article?

Scholarly articles are mostly found in peer-reviewed journals.
     They contain original research results  or  in-depth expert analysis
     They disseminate research and academic discussion among scholars within disciplines.

All scholarly journals are peer-reviewed, but not all articles in all peer-reviewed journals might be considered scholarly.  Though they would be considered authoritative and credible.

Understanding and being able to identify the various types of articles is crucial to the research process.  

The question should often be,  "Is the article "authoritative" and "credible" not necessarily "scholarly."

Identifying the type of periodical in which an article is published is central to determining if it can be considered a  "scholarly" article. Consider:

                  Scholarly             Professional / Credible / Authoritative             Popular

                            These categories are not definitive. This is a judgement call!  


What Type of Periodical Is It?

Scholarly Professional / Authoritative/ Credible Popular



contains original research
lengthy with in-depth analysis
uses scholarly/technical language
author credentials provided
cites sources in extensive references list
sometimes peer-reviewed
reports on developments & trends within discipline or industry
varied length articles
uses some technical language
author credentials may be provided
often cites sources
not peer-reviewed
covers current events & pop culture
varied length articles
written for general public
seldom signed by author
rarely cites sources
Written by Scholars or researchers in the field who  have an expertise in the subject Scholars or professionals who have education and experience in the field Journalists, freelance writers or publication's staff
Written for Academic community Professional community or General Public General Public
Published by Scholarly societies/associations or academic presses Professional associations, foundations Mostly commercial companies for profit

Peer-reviewed Journals

Peer-reviewed (or Refereed) means a panel of experts in the field have reviewed the journal's articles for quality and accuracy before publication.

Periodicals are either peer-reviewed or not.  But some review processes are more rigorous than others.

When searching library resources look for the option which limits results to peer review journals.

When searching Google Scholar be aware most journal citations are from peer-reviewed journals but not always. Check!

If you have an article or citation, but are unsure if the journal is peer reviewed, use Ulrich's Periodical Directory. Search for journal title and look for “Document Type.” This should specify Academic/Scholarly, Consumer, Trade, etc.


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