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Evaluating Information: Scholarly Articles & Peer Review

This guide will give you insights into evaluating books, articles and websites for inclusion in your research.

Why Articles?

The articles found in many scholarly journals go through a "peer-review" process. In other words, the articles are checked by academics and other experts. The information is therefore reliable.  As well as containing scholarly information, journal articles can include reports and/or reviews of current research and topic-specific information.

Use scholarly journals when you need original research on a topic; articles and essays written by scholars or subject experts; factual documented information to reinforce a position; or references lists that point you to other relevant research. Scholarly journals take less time to publish than books, but the peer-review process can be lengthy. 

Popular articles found in magazines are often written by journalist or professional writers for a general audience.  They tend to be shorter than scholarly journal articles and rarely give full citations for sources.  Popular articles from magazines are helpful if you want background on a topic that is new to you or very current information

Need Practice?

Found an article, but you aren't sure if it's scholarly?

Compare it to the Anatomy of Scholarly article from NCSU Libraries

How to Identify Scholarly Articles

Typical qualities of a scholarly journal article include:

The Basics

  • An abstract or summary begins the article

  • It contains citations or a bibliography

  • You can see the author's affiliation and credentials

  • The journal title often contains words such as journal, review, transactions and is subject or topic specific

 

Also Consider

  • Its written to inform and contains specialized language

  • Its written for other scholars in the subject

  • Scholarly journals tend to have few, if any images, but often contain charts, graphs, or data tables.

Peer Review in 3 Minutes