Recognize a scholarly/peer-reviewed article
Scholarly articles are sometimes referred to as "peer-reviewed" or "refereed" because they are typically evaluated by other scholars before being accepted for publication. A scholarly article is commonly a study or a literature review, and usually longer than a magazine article.
The table below compares some of the differences between magazines (e.g. Psychology Today) and journals (e.g. Journal of Abnormal Psychology).
|Popular Magazines||Scholarly Journals|
|Appearance||flashy cover, photographs, advertisements||mostly text, few ads, graphs & charts|
|Audience||general public||students, professionals, researchers|
|Authors||staff writers||practitioners, theorists, educators|
|Titles||short & catchy||long & precise|
|Publisher||commercial||educational institution or professional organizations|
The clearest and most reliable indicator of a scholarly article is the presence of references or citations. Look for a list of works cited and/or numbered footnotes or endnotes. Citations are not merely a check against plagiarism. They set the article in the context of a scholarly discussion and provide useful suggestions for further research.
Using the table above, can you tell which of the following records is a scholarly journal? Answer is below.
Answer: In the graphic above the first article from Research in Higher Education is a journal.
Some library databases allow you to limit your search to scholarly articles. (The graphic below is from an EBSCOhost database. Check the box to apply the scholarly/peer-review journal limit.) This is a useful feature, but it is not 100% accurate in terms of what it includes and what it excludes. You should still check to see if the article has references or citations.