Q. How can I tell if an article is a scholarly article?

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Last Updated: Mar 21, 2023     Views: 15

Scholarly and peer-reviewed mean different things. All peer-reviewed articles are scholarly, but not all scholarly articles are peer-reviewed. And not all articles that appear scholarly journals are scholarly, e.g., editorials.

Scholarly articles share several characteristics:

  • Publication
    • The publication should be a scholarly journal or published by an academic press. You can identify scholarly journal and academic publishers by searching in the Journal Citation Reports database. Ulrichsweb Global Serials Directory also indicates whether a journal is peer-reviewed - the journal entry will be flagged with a black and white striped icon (representing a referee shirt).
  • Authorship
    • The authors of scholarly articles are experts. An author's institutional affiliation and scholarly credentials, such as an advanced degree, should be noted.
    • Scholarly articles in the sciences and social sciences usually share a common structure and incluce an abstract, sections on methodology and findings, a discussion, a conclusion, and a list of references.
    • Scholarly articles in history, literature, and the humanities often include an introduction and a literature review, in addition to the body. And they will cite references.
  • References
    • Scholarly articles usually have an extensive list of references, many of them scholarly sources.
  • Illustrations
    • Charts, graphs, and other illustrations are informative rather than decorative.
  • Advertisements
    • There will be few, if any, advertisements in a scholarly journal. If there are, they will be for products, services, or employment opportunities related to the journal's research area.
  • Tone
    • Prose will be of a high reading level and use field-specific terminology.


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