What is a scholarly article?
Library databases give citations, abstracts, and sometimes full text, to a wide variety of sources: popular magazines, trade journals, academic journals, newspapers, etc.
Often people look for a specific type of article: a scholarly article. Academic journals publish these kinds of articles. They can cover a wide variety of topics. They may be original papers that describe empirical studies and their results, or a literature review on a topic, or they may explore a subject in detail.
To determine which of the articles you find are scholarly articles, use these guidelines:
- What is the name of the journal?
Popular magazines like Newsweek, Forbes, or Time don’t publish research articles; publications like Journal of Religion or the American Journal of Sociology do.
- Is the journal peer-reviewed or refereed?
Journals that use a refereed or peer review process are usually more scholarly.
- How long is the article?
A scholarly article is usually substantial, not 1 or 2 pages.
- Does the article contain references to other works?
Serious researchers and scholars always cite their sources.
- Who is the author of the article?
Is he or she an expert on this topic, as opposed to reporters who write on a wide variety of topics? Has this author written other works? Does the author have an academic affiliation?
- In the abstract of the article, how is the article described?
Read the abstract of the article carefully. Variations of the words study, measure, subjects, data, survey, or statistical usually indicate empirical research.
Where can I find scholarly articles?
General multi-subject databases that contain popular magazines, trade journals, academic journals, and newspapers, allow you to limit your search to scholarly or peer-reviewed articles before you search.
Alternatively, in all of these databases, you may want to wait to limit your search to scholarly journals after you see your search results. This will give you the option of also seeing non-scholarly articles from popular magazines and newspapers. Sometimes you may want to see newspaper and popular magazine articles to get the most current information on a topic. Some multi-subject databases are:
- Academic Search CompleteAcademic Search Complete, designed specifically for academic institutions, is among the most valuable and comprehensive scholarly, multi-disciplinary full-text database, with more than 8,500 full-text periodicals, including more than 7,300 peer-reviewed journals.
- Gale Academic OneFileA premier resource for peer-reviewed, full-text journals and reference sources, Gale Academic OneFile is a sophisticated, current and easy-to-use resource for extensive research. With millions of articles available in both PDF and HTML full text, researchers are able to find accurate information quickly.
- FusionFusion allows you to search, in one place, the majority of the library’s books, articles, videos, etc. It includes all the materials in our library catalog Ignacio, as well as the content of the majority of our many databases.
The library has over 200 other databases on a wide variety of subjects, many of which have scholarly articles. These databases can be browsed by subject on the alphabetical the list of databases, like Sociology or Economics. Look within each of those broad subjects for specific databases.
Identifying peer reviewed journals
- Check in the database Ulrichsweb to determine if the journal is identified as peer-reviewed.
- Or find the official journal web site and check to see if it states that the journal is peer-reviewed. Be sure to use the official site (often located at the journal publisher's web site).
- If you are still unable to determine if a journal is peer-reviewed, check with a librarian or your instructor.
- UlrichswebUlrichsweb is an easy to search source of detailed information on more than 300,000 periodicals (also called serials) of all types: academic and scholarly journals, e-journals, peer-reviewed titles, popular magazines, newspapers, newsletters, and more.