Identifying scholarly articles involves analysis of the article's content. The chart below is meant to help you in this process; however, any one criteria by itself may not indicate that an article is scholarly. For example, a 30 page photo spread in People about stars at the Academy Awards is not scholarly, even though it is long.
Trade or Professional Magazines
|Longer articles (often 10+ pages), providing in-depth analysis
|Mid-length articles (often 2-8 pages), providing practical guidance
|Shorter articles (often <1-5 pages), providing broader overviews
|An expert or specialist in the field (often a professor), name and credentials always provided
|Usually someone working in the field, with hands-on experience; some staff writers
|Usually a staff writer or a journalist, name and credentials often not provided
|Professional language, jargon, theoretical terms
|Some jargon and technical terms
|Scholarly readers (professors, researchers or students)
|Other people working in the industry
|Few or none
|Some -- products to sell to practitioners in that industry
|Many -- products for the general public
|Usually structured, with likely sections: abstract, literature review, methodology, results, conclusion, bibliography
|Sometimes has sub-sections for organization
|No specific format or structure
|Illustrations that support the text, such as tables of statistics, graphs, maps, or photographs
|Some illustrations; practical guidelines, best practices, lesson plans, how-to, or other hands-on direction
|Glossy/color illustrations or graphics, usually for advertising purposes
|Reviewed and critically evaluated by several editors. Often refereed or peer-reviewed by experts in the field.
|Editorial board of other practitioners or professionals in the field, but no external peer review
|Not evaluated by experts in the field, but by editors or other journalists on staff
|Bibliography (works cited) and/or footnotes are always present to document research
|Usually no formal bibliography, although references to other research are often mentioned in-text
|No bibliography, although references to other research are sometimes mentioned in-text
Based on Kathy Schrock's The 5W's of Web Site Evaluation
A scholarly journal that uses the peer review process before publishing articles is described as a refereed journal.
An article that has undergone scrutiny of other scholars and researchers is described as a peer-reviewed article.
Many databases provide a search limiter that help you eliminate publications such as magazines, newspapers, and trade journals. Look for a limiter option such as this:
When searching for articles using Google Scholar, however, you need to ascertain that a journal is refereed. Use the tools on this page, such as Ulrichsweb to help you identify this information.