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Characteristics of Scholarly Journals

Where Did You Find It?

Periodical indexes or databases, such as EBSCOHost MasterFILE Premier and General OneFile , include references to journals, but, since these indexes also include some popular magazines as well, you will need to check some additional criteria.

If the title of the periodical has "Journal" or "Review" as part of the title, it could be a scholarly journal, but you may need to check further. For example, The New England Journal of Medicine or Nutrition Review are scholarly publications, but not Ladies Home Journal.

Many databases have a way to "limited to scholarly journals".  Check the 'advanced search' or 'refine search' screens.

Who is the Publisher? How Are Articles Selected for Publication?
Scholarly journals are often (but not always) published or sponsored by a professional society or an academic institution.
Check for a list of reviewers (editorial board) inside the front cover of the journal or on the first few pages. This type of journal is known as a "juried" or "refereed" journal - articles are selected after reviewers have evaluated their quality.
What are the General Characteristics of a Scholarly Journal Article?
The articles are specialized, relatively lengthy, and intended for those familiar with the subject.

The article may be organized into at least two of the following sections: Introduction or Literature Review, Theory or Background, Subjects, Methods/Methodology, Results, Discussion.

The article has footnotes, endnotes, and/or a bibliography or list of references.

The title of the article reflects its content.

The content of the article normally reports on original research or experimentation.

The author's credentials (e.g., title, institutional affiliation) are usually listed.

The article is based upon either original research or on authorities in the field (rather than personal opinion).

The article is normally plain in appearance with few, if any, illustrations. There may be supporting diagrams or charts, but few glossy color pictures.

Pages may be numbered consecutively throughout the volume/year.

Related Information Box

Scholarly or academic journals have some characteristics that distinguish them from popular magazines. This guide identifies some of those features that will help you determine if an article is from a scholarly journal or not. 

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Last modified: Monday February 03 2014