While many will be familiar with some of the common types of information resources such as magazines, newspapers, and reference (encyclopedias, dictionaries, etc.), scholarly articles may be an information type that you haven't encountered before this tutorial. With this in mind, let us define scholarly articles and go over some of their major features:
What is a Scholarly Article?
Scholarly articles are topical articles within a discipline written by scholars or experts in their discipline to further knowledge of their discipline. These articles are often called peer reviewed articles, because a panel of peer experts typically reviews the article for quality before publication. Finally, scholarly articles are published periodically, typically several times a year, in discipline-specific academic journals. Did all that make sense? Well, let us break this definition down a bit:
Articles Written by Scholars or Experts in Their Discipline
Unlike newspapers, magazines, or typical web articles, scholarly articles are almost always written by a knowledgeable authority, scholar, or expert in the discipline. For instance, if the scholarly article covers a medical topic, it will be likely written by a medical doctor or medical professor. If the article covers a scientific topic, it will likely be written by a professional scientist or professor of science.
Scholarly Articles are Written to Further Knowledge Within a Discipline
Another important factor to keep in mind is the purpose of scholarly articles: to further knowledge within a discipline. Unlike reference sources such as encyclopedias which give detailed summaries about already established facts and knowledge, scholarly articles are a source of new knowledge and breakthroughs. For instance, a scholarly article can cover the results of a scientific experiment, a psychological study, or a detailed reexamination of an important literary text.
Before Publication, Scholarly Articles are Peer-Reviewed:
Before a scholarly article is published, a panel of peer-experts reviews the article for both the quality of ideas and of content. In so doing, a higher quality article is ensured for readers. It is for this reason that scholarly articles are often referred to as Peer-Reviewed articles.
Scholarly Articles are Published in Discipline Specific Journals that Come Out Periodically
Scholarly journals are collections of scholarly articles. These journals are published in periodically, typically several times in a year. Scholarly journals always have a discipline or subject focus such as, psychology, biology, literature, and philosophy. For instance, The New England Journal of Medicine is a medical scholarly journal, and the Journal of American Sociology is a scholarly journal with a focus in American sociological articles.
A Few Signs That Your Article is Scholarly
-The periodical where the article was published is listed as 'Peer Reviewed;'
-The author's credentials (education, affiliations, etc) are listed;
-The article is specialized (focuses on a particular topic), lengthy (no fewer than 5 pages) and is written for a particular audience (e.g., psychology, science, philosophy, etc.)
-The article follows a research format: Introduction, Methodology, Results, Discussion
-The article contains original research
-There are foot and/or end notes, and an extensive works-cited page or bibliography;
Not every scholarly article will have all of the features listed above, but most will have the majority of those features. An easier way to make certain that your search yields scholarly articles is by searching in an electronic subscription database, like the ones offered by GCC, and limiting your search to Peer Reviewed articles.