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How to Evaluate Information Sources: Journal Articles

Journal Articles

In academic research considerable emphasis is placed upon using scholarly materials. You may also see the terms "academic", "peer reviewed" or "refereed" used to describe scholarly materials.

Scholarly, academic, refereed, or peer-reviewed journal articles:

  • In peer-reviewed journals (also called refereed), the articles are reviewed by other experts in the same field of study before they are accepted for publication.
  • In scholarly journals (also called academic), the articles are written by academics but the articles are not always reviewed by experts in the topic the author is writing about before publication. 
  • In the article, the author's credentials are listed and are relevant to the subject of the article.
  • A bibliography or citation list is included at the end of the article, allowing you to trace the information on which the author has based the paper.
  • Scholarly, academic and peer reviewed, refereed journals are often published by a university press or academic association.
  • The intended audience is professionals, researchers, or students in the discipline; and the language is often technical, requiring prior knowledge of the field.

TIP: When you are searching a journal database, look for peer-reviewed or refereed in the record for the article. Some databases allow you to limit your search to this type of publication OR search for the journal title in Ulrichsweb.com to see if the journal is refereed. 

Popular magazine articles:

  • Popular magazines and newspapers are found on newsstands.
  • Popular magazine articles are written for the general public.
  • The author may be a staff writer or journalist, who may not have an academic background in the subject matter.
  • Bibliographies or works cited are rarely included at the end of an article or within the text of an article.

Is This Journal Scholarly?