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Scholarly Articles

What are scholarly articles?

A scholarly article is published in a peer-reviewed, academic journal. It uses specific terms and language (or jargon) and is written by scholars for an academic audience, typically for other scholars in the same discipline.

What is the difference between scholarly and popular articles?

To find scholarly journal articles for your research paper, you need to know some features that distinguish scholarly articles from news, magazine, and general webpage articles. These differences exist whether you find the articles through an internet search or a library database.

Comparison of characteristics of scholarly and popular articles
What to Know Scholarly Journal Articles  Popular Articles (news, magazines, webpages)
Who writes them? Experts in a field
Scholars or Professors
Reporters or journalists
Staff writers
Free-lance writers
Who reads them?

Researchers and Experts
Scholars (including students)
People with knowledge of the topic

General public
People who do not have in-depth knowledge of the topic

What do they look like?

"Serious" looking - mostly text, some charts, graphs, or tables
Fewer advertisements or illustrations
Generally longer articles

Articles online or in databases are often in PDF format to appear similar to a print journal

See how scholarly articles are organized

Glossy, color photographs
Commercial advertisements
Easy-to-read or eye-catching layout

Articles online often have hyperlinks to other relevant articles throughout the text

What are they about?

Original research studies or experiments
In-depth analysis of a specific topic or theory
Critical analysis (criticism)

Entertainment and popular culture
Current events and news
Opinion pieces or articles with an emotional slant

Who reviews them?

Peer reviewers - an editorial board of experts in the discipline

Staff editors and publishers

What are they used for?

Finding current research about a specific aspect of your topic
Learning what the experts say about your topic and using it to support your thesis

Broad overviews of current topics
Information about popular culture
Introduction to an unfamiliar topic

What are some examples? cover of Policy Studies Journal with table of contents on covercover of the journal ethnic and racial studies

logo for magazine, The Atlantic

logo for online magazine, Psychology Today

What is peer review?

Scholarly articles go through the peer review process. This video describes peer review.