Many databases indicate whether the article is "academic" or "peer-reviewed" in the full citation. Also, you can limit your search results to "academic journals" or "peer-reviewed," so your results will all be scholarly material.
If this information is not available, another option is to look up the title of journal in a database called Ulrichsweb, which gives publication information on all types of periodicals.
If in doubt, ask a librarian! We'll be glad to help.
Example 1: You can limit your search immediately BEFORE you search.
Example 2: You can limit to "Academic Journals" or "Scholarly Journals" (depending on the database you are in) AFTER you conduct your search, thus filtering your results.
What is the difference between popular magazines, trade journals and scholarly (also called academic or peer-reviewed) journals? Check out the table below.
Different Types of Periodicals
|Color covers||Plain cover, plain paper (most often)|
|Glossy papers||Glossy papers||(Science journals may be glossy)|
|Articles on current events||Articles on industry trends||Primary research, theories, methodologies|
|General interest||Written for members of specific industry||Written for researchers & professionals|
|Short articles||Short articles||Lengthy, in-depth articles|
|Informal tone||Informal tone||Formal and serious tone|
|Easy to read vocabularies||Professional jargons, more difficult to read|
|Written by general staff||Written by staff or experts in the field||Written by experts in the field & researchers|
|Reviewed by general editor||Peer review* by subject experts|
|No bibliographies or footnotes||Short or no bibliographies||Extensive bibliographies & references|
|Usually called a "magazine"||Referred to as a "journal"; may have "journal" in its name|
"Peer reviewed" means that the article has gone through a vetting or review process. That is, experts in the same field as the author of the article have evaluated the author's scholarship and made sure that his or her methods, research, theories, and conclusions are sound and backed up by other scholarship or research. Often, a double-blind peer-review process is used, where the author and reviewers are unknown to each other, to ensure that personal bias does not affect the evaluation of scholarship.
Journals may be scholarly or academic without necessarily being peer-reviewed. In this case, a editor in the discipline or an editorial board makes the decision to publish another expert's work. Ask your professor whether or not your article needs to be peer-reviewed in addition to being scholarly.