What is a scholarly article?
The purpose of scholarship is to expand human knowledge. Scholars conduct research in their fields in order to add to or clarify what is already known about a particular topic. They then publish their research findings in peer-reviewed journals. Once published the article adds value, context, and perspective to the existing literature on the topic in order to build upon the world's collective knowledge.
What is peer-review?
Peer-review is a term that refers to a process that determines the quality of scholarship. Scholars submit their research articles to peer-reviewed journals. The editors of the journals forward the articles to several "peers" (other scholars in the field) to review. The peers look at what (the results), how (the research methods), and why (the topic) the scholar researched the topic in order to determine if the article should be added to the literature of knowledge in the field. This process ensures that published research is accurate, valid, and reliable.
The terms peer-reviewed, scholarly, academic, and research are often used interchangeably to refer to all articles that have undergone this quality review.
How can you tell if an article is scholarly?
Evaluate the following features of the article. If it meets ALL of these criteria then it is considered scholarly.
- Authors of scholarly articles are researchers, academics, and scholars within the field. The article should not only identify the author, but also the college, university, or research organization with which the author is associated.
- Publishers of peer-reviewed journals in which scholarly articles are published are universities, research institutes, scholarly presses and professional organizations. If you are unsure, Google the publisher's name and see what type of material they publish.
- Scholarly articles ALWAYS include sources. Look for footnotes, endnotes, references, or bibliographies. If there are no sources cited in the article then it is not scholarly.
- The language used in scholarly articles generally consists of college-level writing and vocabulary. Articles are written for fellow scholars in the field and for college students and often includes vocabulary special to the given field.
- The purpose of scholarly articles is to report original qualitative or quantitative research, case studies, or in-depth analysis of topics. The articles themselves are lengthy, and generally present information with statistics, charts, graphs, and tables. Advertisements of any kind are very rare.