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McNair Scholars Program: Information Literacy Strand

The TRiO/McNair Scholars Program is geared toward enhancing those skills and experiences that will be required to compete successfully in graduate school.

How do I tell if an article in a database is scholarly?

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 Ulrich's, 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 using advanced search.

 

 

Example 2: You can limit to "Academic Journals" after you conduct your search, thus filtering your results.

 

Example 3:  Sometimes the articles are displayed in different tabs. One tab is for "peer-reviewed."


"I need to find scholarly articles..."

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

Popular Trade Scholarly
Color covers Plain cover, plain paper (most often)
Glossy papers Glossy papers (Science journals may be glossy)
Ads Ads No ads
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
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.