Is It a Scholarly Journal or Isn't It?

Answering these questions will help you determine whether you are working with a scholarly journal. 

Where Did You Find It?

You found the citation for the journal article in a subject oriented index. For example, you found it in Medline, CINAHL, ERIC, Social Science Abstracts, Humanities Index, PsychInfo, etc.

How Are the Articles Chosen for Publication?

A scholarly journal is typically published or sponsored by a professional society or association. There is also usually list of reviewers or editorial board members inside the front cover of the journal or on the first few pages. This type of journal is known as a "juried" or "refereed" journal. Although it can be difficult within an online, full-text journal to find a list of reviewers or an editorial board listing, a number of databases permit you to restrict or limit your subject search to scholarly, juried, refereed, or "peer-reviewed" journals.

What Are the General Characteristics of a Scholarly Journal Article?

A scholarly journal article is usually organized into at least two of the following sections:

  1. Introduction or Literature Review 
  2. Theory or Background
  3. Subjects
  4. Methods
  5. Results
  6. Discussion
  • The article should also have a bibliography or list of references.
  • The title of the article should reflect its content.
  • There should be an abstract at the beginning of the article.
  • The author's credentials should be listed.
  • The article should specify that it is based on either original research or authorities in the field, as opposed to personal opinion.
  • There may also be supporting diagrams or illustrations with a scholarly article.