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Mat-Su College: Writing

A guide for students taking Writing, particularly Writing 111, at Mat-Su College.

What is a scholarly article?

Researchers and professors use scholarly articles to share their research. Scholarly articles are sometimes also known as peer-reviewed or journal articles. These articles share the details of a single research project. If you hear a news story that starts "According to a new study...", you are probably hearing about a new scholarly article.

Scholarly articles are good sources of information for two reasons. First, they are written by experts or group of experts sharing the results of careful research. Second, scholarly articles go through peer-review before publication. Peer-review means that other experts read the article and decide if it is good enough to publish.

For these reasons, your professors will often ask you to or make you use scholarly articles. Read the next section to learn how to find scholarly articles useful for Writing 111.

If you want more details on scholarly articles or need help deciding an article is scholarly, read the fourth section of this page, "How can I be sure an article is scholarly?"

Where do I find scholarly articles?

Scholarly articles are typically not freely available on the open web. As such, you should use an article database that the library pays for and makes available to you. One of the best of these databases is Academic Search Premier. Academic Search Premier has articles on every subject. That makes it a good place to do your Writing 111 research.

Click here to enter Academic Search Premier.

Read the next section to learn how to use Academic Search Premier.

How do I use Academic Search Premier?

When you first enter Academic Search Premier, you will see a page with a lot of buttons and search boxes. Don't be overwhelmed. Focus on the search bars at the top of the page:

A screenshot of the Academic Search Premier interface showing the search boxes at the top of the page

Enter your search terms on the first search bar and click "Search." You should then see a page that looks similar to this (minus the red circles):

Screenshot of academic search premier results page


In this results page, you can narrow down your search results to items from scholarly journals by clicking the button on the left next to the text "Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) Journals" and you can access the full text of articles by clicking "PDF Full Text" or "Check Library for Full Text." These are all indicated by the red circles in the above image.

How can I be sure an article is scholarly?

Here are some questions you should ask yourself if you are ever unsure whether an article is scholarly.

What does the title of the article look like?

Titles of scholarly articles probably may use jargon specific to a field of research. They also give some indication that they are reporting the results of an experiment or study; look for words like “study,” “survey,” or “analysis” that tell you what kind of research the article contains. Here are some examples of scholarly article titles:

  • Attention bias for chocolate increases chocolate consumption—an attention bias modification study
  • Effects of preparation and cooking of folic acid-fortified foods on the availability of folic acid in a folate depletion/repletion rat model
  • Consequences of Cold-Ischemia Time on Primary Nonfunction and Patient and Graft Survival in Liver Transplantation: A Meta-Analysis

What is the name of the journal that this article is in?

Scholarly articles appear in what are called scholarly journals. These journals usually have names that contain words like “Journal” or the names of academic disciplines. Here are some examples of scholarly publication titles:

  • Journal of Tropical Psychology
  • Aboriginal Policy Studies
  • Conflict Resolution Quarterly
  • Animal Behaviour

Who wrote it?

Scholarly articles are written by professors or researchers. The first page of a scholarly journal article will list the authors and their degrees and what university of laboratory they work for. Another clue is that articles with multiple authors are more likely to be scholarly. Articles without authors listed, or anonymous authors, are not scholarly.

How is it organized?

Scholarly articles are usually (but not always) divided into labeled sections such as abstract, introduction, literature review (or background), methods, results, discussion, and conclusion.

What does it look like?

It is very common for scholarly articles to have charts, graphs, and tables that display the statistical findings of their research. Scholarly articles typically will not have pictures unless these pictures demonstrate some important point (i.e., the pictures aren't there as eye candy).

Are there references?

Scholarly articles contain extensive citations, both in the body of the text and at the end of the article. Articles without citations are not scholarly.

How long is it?

Scholarly articles are always several pages long or longer. Many are over five pages, and some are even 30 or 40 pages long.