Answered By: Allison McDermott
Last Updated: Nov 03, 2022     Views: 9393

The library contains a variety of different source types, including scholarly sources, such as articles written in scholarly journals and ebooks from academic publishers. It also contains non-scholarly and popular sources, such as trade journals, magazines, newspapers, and "how-to" books. This means that you have to take an additional step to limit your results to scholarly articles if you need that type of source.  

What is a scholarly article?

When used to discuss a source of information the terms scholarly and peer reviewed have a very specific meaning and narrow definition. A scholarly/peer reviewed article goes through a rigorous review process where experts in that field of study verify that the information is worthy of publication. That is why you will find these resources published in a scholarly publication like a scholarly journal, or scholarly book or ebook. Academics and experts in a field can publish articles on a topic for a general audience, students, or even people within their field, but if it is not published in a scholarly publication, it is not a scholarly article.

The thing that can be tricky is that not all articles published in scholarly journals are appropriate for research. Scholarly journals often include book reviews, editorials, and notes from the field that are not really appropriate for research.

What to look for to determine if a source is appropriate for research.

To determine if a source published in a scholarly journal is appropriate for your research the first thing you want to do is look for a reference list. You can usually tell the difference because scholarly articles will have citations to their sources and a list of references. If the article does not have a reference list, you may want to think twice before using it as one of your scholarly sources. These reference lists will be at the very end of the article.

How to limit your search to scholarly and peer reviewed articles

When searching Library OneSearch, EBSCOhost, or ProQuest in the library, you can check the box for Limit to Scholarly / Peer Reviewed before you click search. This will give you results that come from scholarly journals.

red box around the limit to scholarly peer reviewed button.

Please note that this determination is made by the publishers of the journals or the database from which it is being retrieved. In other databases such as JSTOR and SAGE, all of the content is from journals that publishers have deemed scholarly.

How can I tell if it is peer reviewed? 

1. Select the article's title within your result's list.

red box around the article title Toward the data-driven dissemination of findings from psychological science.

2. Then select the detailed record link in the left portion of the screen.

Red box around the detailed record link.

3. From here, under Source, select the journal title.

Red arrow pointing to the joural title American Psychologist.

4. At the very bottom of the journal's publication details page you'll find a Yes next to peer reviewed if the journal is such.

Red box around the Peer Reviewed: Yes link in the publication details record for American Psychologist

For additional information about the publication, you can also visit the journal or the publishers' website to see their publication criteria and/or process. To get there, select the Publisher's URL on the journal's publication details page. 

Red box around the publisher's url on the publication details page.

On the journal or publisher's website, you can look at the publication process to see if the journal is considered scholarly and goes through the peer review process. You may have to dig around a little to find this information. Sometimes the journal's web page will state in several places whether it's a scholarly or peer reviewed journal.

A quick trick to assist you in determining if a journal is scholarly is to do a "Crtl F" search of the publisher's website to see if the term scholarly appears on the site.

red box around the 'Ctrl F" search box that contains the word Scholarly.

Finally, we recommend asking your instructor if the articles you selected meet his or her criteria for the assignment. Ultimately, he or she will have the final say about what is acceptable. To learn more, you can refer to the following tip sheet - Scholarly, Peer Reviewed, and Other Credible Sources.

If you still have questions you can chat in real-time with a librarian here.

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