Someday soon, you’ll need to find a scholarly journal article for a project or research paper. Awesome. No problem. But, wait a second, what is a “scholarly journal article?” How is it different from a popular source like a newspaper or magazine article? Good question! Let’s break down the
differences. Scholarly journals enable scholars — experts in
a particular academic field — to communicate their research with other
experts by publishing articles. It also allows them to stay current by reading
about other scholars’ work. Consequently, scholarly journals create a
community of experts who are all participating in
a kind of “conversation” in that academic field. Rather than a face-to-face conversation, this is a formal conversation, this is a formal conversation which takes place over months and years through these scholarly articles. The most important part of this long term written conversation, what makes it a “scholarly” conversation is what’s called the “peer review process.” The peer review process works like this: in order for a scholar to get published in a scholarly journal, his or her expert peers must first read their work and critique it. These “peer reviewers” make sure the scholar has made valid arguments, and that he or she has cited appropriate experts in the field to support the argument. This is why you may hear scholarly articles referred to as peer-reviewed articles. The terms are often used interchangeably. This rigorous evaluation process ensures scholarly work meets a higher standard than popular publications and it allows other scholars to rely on these articles for their own research. So, why is this important for you? First, the information in a scholarly text has been carefully evaluated so it is more reliable and credible than information in popular sources. Second, reading scholarly journal articles for your projects can give you insight into professional argumentation and research practices. And finally, every scholarly text has an extensive bibliography that will introduce you to important texts in the field which can help you extend your research in that area. When you read the articles and books the scholar cited has in his or her article, you are taking part in the scholarly conversation and getting leads additional sources for your own work! Okay, so where are these scholarly articles hiding? Let’s say you’re in a research database and you only want scholarly articles. How do you do it? In EBSCO’s Academic Search Complete, you check the box for “Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) Journals” before clicking the search button. This limits the search results to material found only in peer-reviewed publications. Note that some material in these publications such as book reviews and editorials, may not be peer-reviewed. To make sure, click the article title and check that the document type is an “article” or “journal article.” Other research databases have similar interfaces. For more information, please, Ask Us.