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Research: Evaluate Your Sources: Scholarly Resources

What is Peer Review, How to evaluate websites

Characteristics of a Scholarly Journal

Scholarly, academic or peer-reviewed journals are very different from the types of popular or general interest magazines you may be more familiar with.

Characteristics of Scholarly Journals

  • Illustrations, if any, are graphs and charts, with few glossy color pictures
  • Articles are lengthy and list references in footnotes or end notes
  • Articles are written by someone who has conducted research in the field and is usually affiliated with a university or research center
  • Content of articles reports on original research or experimentation
  • Authors write in the language of their discipline; usually other scholars or college students, are assumed to have some knowledge of the field
  • Often, but not always, are published by a scholarly professional association
  • Few advertisements

        Examples: Journal of American Folklore, Shakespeare Quarterly, Sex Roles, International Migration Review, Foreign Affairs.

Research Tip: If you have searched your topic and now have a list of articles, you can use the limit in the left side bar of your search results list to restrict your list to just articles from “Peer-reviewed journals”. Most of the online databases also have a similar limit for finding scholarly or peer-reviewed articles. 

Video: Scholarly vs Popular Periodicals

Video: Scholarly and Popular Resources

Video: Scholarly versus Popular Sources

Popular and Trade Magazines are not Scholarly

Popular Magazines

  • Articles are short and written to inform or entertain the general public
  • Often are illustrated with glossy or color photographs
  • Articles are seldom foot-noted and the source of information is seldom given
  • Authors are usually on the staff of the magazine or are freelance writers
  • Advertisements are aimed at the general public

        Examples: Newsweek, Sports Illustrated, Psychology Today, People Weekly, Vogue

Trade Journals

  • Articles frequently focus on how to do a job better
  • Articles usually do not reflect original research
  • Journal often publishes job listings
  • Articles may not be footnoted or have few footnotes
  • Often published by a scholarly professional association
  • Usually contain news or information of interest to people in that profession
  • Advertisements are aimed at people in that profession

        Examples: American Biology Teacher, Police Chief, American Psychologist, Southeastern Librarian.


Reprinted with permission from Boatwright Library at the University of Richmond, Richmond, Virginia

Coulter Library, Onondaga Community College, Syracuse, NY