What is a Scholarly Article?

When doing research, it is helpful to refer to scholarly materials in order to give your own work credibility. Not all journals in the library, however, are classified as scholarly. For example, some are trade magazines targeted to a specific industry, others provide current news, and still others are intended for entertainment. It is necessary to be able to distinguish between those articles that are scholarly and those that are not.

The following characteristics can identify an article as scholarly:

> AUTHORS
The author of the article is a scholar or expert in the field discussed, not just a journalist or "staff writer."

> CITED SOURCES
The article provides substantial citations, such as footnotes or a bibliography.

> CONTENT & PURPOSE
The article discusses a narrowly defined topic and may review existing literature concerning the topic, present new research based on experiments or archival work, or interpret a well-researched idea in a new way.

> LANGUAGE & AUDIENCE
The article uses technical language specific to the discipline, often requiring the reader to have scholarly background in the area.

> PEER-REVIEW
The article is reviewed and edited by other experts in the discipline.