Most scholarly journals have some of the following characteristics:

  • Article citations for the journal can be found in a subject-oriented index, e.g., ERIC, PsycInfo, Humanities Full Text, MLA Bibliography, Social Sciences Full Text, etc.
  • The journal is published or sponsored by a professional scholarly society or association.
  • There is a list of reviewers (editorial board) inside the front cover or on the first few pages of the journal. This type of journal is a “refereed,” “peer reviewed,” or “juried” journal.

Note: Although not all-inclusive, Magazines for Libraries and Ulrich’s International Periodicals Directory both indicate whether a periodical or serial is Refereed. We subscribe to both, so stop by the Reference Desk for assistance with them, or compare your article to the general--but, again, not all-inclusive--characteristics of a scholarly journal article listed below:

The general characteristics of a scholarly journal article are as follows:

  • The article includes references in a bibliography or in footnotes.
  • The article often contains 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 title of the article reflects its content.
  • An abstract is usually found at the beginning of the article.
  • The author’scredentials are often listed.
  • The article is based on originalresearch or authoritiesinthefield, as opposed to personal opinion.
  • The article may contain supporting diagrams or illustrations.

Note: Do not totally disregard articles from non-scholarly magazines like Time or PsychologyToday. Some of these articles may be quite good, even though they have almost none of the above-noted “scholarly” characteristics. Check with your professor for the final word on this.