Tips on identifying and locating scholarly articles
Identifying Scholarly Journals
Peer reviewis the key distinction between scholarly and non-scholarly sources.*
In contrast to popular newspapers, magazines, websites, and books, scholarly sources are written by experts in a particular field and then reviewed (assessed, evaluated, etc.) by other experts in that field prior to publication.
Other clues that an article is scholarly:
The author is an expert.Most scholarly authors are affiliated with a college, university, or research institution. They hold relevant advanced degrees.
The article presents original research.This research can take many forms, but it often involves formal data analysis or theoretical discussion. Keep in mind that peer-reviewed journals also publish book reviews, opinion pieces, and other types of articles. While these articles can be useful, they are not the same as peer-reviewed research articles.
The article incorporates sophisticated, precise terminology. Experts writing for an expert audience typically use specialist language that will be unfamiliar to a reader outside the field.
The article includes a bibliography.Most scholarly articles include in-text citations or footnotes, as well as a lengthy bibliography, reference list, or works cited page. The bibliography helps the reader seek out the author’s sources and understand the larger “conversation” on a topic.
*"Peer Review in 3 Minutes" video created by NCSU Libraries.
Locating Scholarly Articles
Few databases (ex. JSTOR) include only scholarly sources. Usually databases include a mix of popular and scholarly material.
Some databases let you limit your search to only scholarly, peer-reviewed materials. Look under the Limits or Filters section on the database's search screen for the words "scholarly journals" or "peer-reviewed".