University of New England - Innovation for a Healthier Planet

Research Help

Scholarly & Peer-Reviewed

A scholarly article is one that was written by an authority on the topic and published in a scholarly journal.

Scholarly journals are one of the main ways that researchers disseminate their work. In order to be published, the research is reviewed by other experts to ensure that the results are accurate and presented without bias.

Scholarly journals can be described as peer-reviewed, refereed, academic, or professional journals.

Is a Journal Scholarly?

Look for the following to determine if a journal is scholarly. Scholarly publications typically:

  • Are published or sponsored by professional societies or associations
  • Include a list of reviewers or editorial board members
  • Describe their review process
  • Have a current website with an archive of past issues
  • Are free of misspelling and grammatical errors, dead links, statements promising rapid publication, and odd or questionable content

You can also check Journal Citation Reports for a journal’s impact factor and Cabell’s Predatory Reports. Learn more about journal quality and the problem of predatory journals.

Worksheet: How to evaluate an online journal

Is an Article Scholarly?

Look out for the following to determine if an article is scholarly:

  • The author cites their sources using in-text citations and a bibliography or list of references.
  • The article title reflects it’s content and is neutral. Be wary of sensational or alarmist titles.
  • The content is organized into sections including an abstract, introduction or literature review, methods, results, discussion, conclusion and bibliography or reference list.
  • The article states whether it is based on original research or analysis of research as opposed to personal opinion.
  • The article provides supporting documentation, like diagrams, figures, or survey instruments, often in an appendix.
  • The authors credentials are listed, along with any organizations that sponsor their work.
  • You found it in a reliable source like a research database.

What is Peer-Review?

Peer-review is a rigorous process by which articles are evaluated by a panel of experts in the field; the author’s peers. The peer-reviewers evaluate the validity of the article’s research methods, its accuracy and that the research meets the established standards in the discipline. This review process ensures that the article meets the highest standards for academic research.

How to find Scholarly and Peer-Reviewed Sources

An article search can be filtered to show only scholarly or peer-reviewed sources using the choices in the left-hand menu bar. Most research databases have similar filter options. The reference lists or bibliographies of other scholarly articles are also a good source, but you will need to evaluate them independently. Learn more about getting started with your research.

What is NOT scholarly?

Not every article published in a journal is considered scholarly; there may be editorials, letters or commentary.

You may also find articles from popular magazines, newspapers, trade publications, websites, corporate reports, or other resources while doing research on your topic. These types of publications:

  • Are written by journalists or tradespeople
  • Are intended for a broad audience
  • Tend not to include references to back up their claims
  • Can be based on personal opinion

These may be good resources depending on your assignment, but are not considered scholarly. When in doubt, check with your professor.