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
|Length||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|
|Author||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|
|Language||Professional language, jargon, theoretical terms||Some jargon and technical terms||Non-technical language|
|Likely Audience||Scholarly readers (professors, researchers or students)||Other people working in the industry||Anyone|
|Advertisements||Few or none||Some -- products to sell to practitioners in that industry||Many -- products for the general public|
|Format/Structure||Usually structured, with likely sections: abstract, literature review, methodology, results, conclusion, bibliography||Sometimes has sub-sections for organization||No specific format or structure|
|Special Features||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|
|Editors||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|
|Credits||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|
Still can't tell the difference? These resources can help:
Ulrichsweb (periodicals directory) -- look up a journal's name, and look for the row called "Content type" -- it should say Academic/Scholarly, Trade, or Consumer (popular).
Magazines for Libraries / Reference Collection Z6941 .K2
It is important to do some critical evaluation to decide whether what you find, particularly online sources of information, is appropriate and usable for your University research assignment. When you are evaluating a website, the methods linked from Evaluating Internet Resources provide useful guidance in determining the source, scope, currency, accuracy and bias of a site. Below is one outline for helping determine whether a website would be a credible source of information.
An Informational Web Page is one whose purpose is to present factual information. The URL Address frequently ends in .edu or .gov, as many of these pages are sponsored by educational institutions or government agencies.
Note: The greater number of questions listed below answered "yes", the more likely it is you can determine whether the source is of high information quality.
Criterion #1: AUTHORITY
Criterion #2: ACCURACY
Criterion #3: OBJECTIVITY
Criterion #4: CURRENCY
Criterion #5: COVERAGE
Copyright Jan Alexander & Marsha Ann Tate 1996-2005
Print copies of this checklist may be made and distributed provided that 1) They are used for educational purposes only and 2) The page is reproduced in its entirety. For any other use or for permission to make electronic copies, please contact the authors at Wolfgram Memorial Library,
Andersen Library Reference Desk
Phone: (262) 472-1032
Call or visit during Reference Desk Hours
Make an Appointment with any Librarian
Get help via email
Get help 24/7 with Ask a Librarian Chat*
*UW-W librarians staff are staffing this chat service on an irregular basis during winterim 2021. You may chat with non-UW-W librarians at any time, and we will follow up if needed.