Pew Learning Center & Ellison Library

Painless Library Research

Is it a Scholarly Journal?

Many of our online databases now allow you to limit your searches to scholarly or peer-reviewed journals, so if you only want to see these kinds of journals, then look for that search limit (sometimes, you will need to go to the advanced search screen to find it.) Otherwise, you can use the following questions to help you determine if you are using a scholarly or academic journal:

Where did you find the citation?

Citations to articles in scholarly journals are often found using subject-oriented indexes (e.g., ABI/INFORM GLOBAL and PsycInfo).

Is the journal published or sponsored by a professional society or association?

Professional organizations often sponsor scholarly journals.

Are the author's credentials listed?

Articles in scholarly journals are written by experts or researchers in the field.

Is the article organized into at least two of the following sections?

Introduction or Literature Review; Theory, Background or Hypothesis; Subjects; Methods; Results; Discussion.

Is there an abstract or summary at the beginning of the article?

Look for the mention of terms such as theory, hypothesis, research methods, and results.

Is the article based on either original research or authorities in the field (as opposed to the author's personal opinions)?

Look for a description of the author's credentials.

How are the articles chosen for publication?

Is there a list of reviewers (an editorial board) included in the first few pages of the journal? This type of journal is known as a "juried" or "refereed" journal.

Are there supporting diagrams or tables?

Articles in academic journals often, but not always, include figures or tables.