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Dietetics at Mat-Su College

A short introduction to library resources for students in Mat-Su College's Dietetics and Nutrition courses.

What is a scholarly article?

Researchers use scholarly articles to share the results of their research. You probably don't read these articles except when a professor makes you, but you often hear about them. Ever hear a news report that starts with "According to a new study..."? The study they're talking about was first made public in a scholarly article.

Scholarly articles are sometimes also known as peer-reviewed or journal articles.

A scholarly article is usually a good source of information for two reasons.

1. The author(s) is an expert sharing the results of thoughtful research

2. scholarly articles are peer-reviewed before publication. Peer-review means that other experts read the article and decide if it is trustworthy.

For these reasons, your professors will often ask you to or make you use recent scholarly articles. The other tabs of this guide will help with that.

If you want more details on scholarly articles or need help deciding an article is scholarly, continuing reading this tab.

Video: What is a scholarly article?

How to Read a Scholarly Article

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.

Still not sure if an article is scholarly?

There is another way to find out if an article is scholarly. You can find out whether the journal it is in is scholarly using a tool called Ulrichsweb.

Start by getting on the Mat-Su College Library site and clicking the Databases button:

Screenshot of "Databases" link on library website

Next, find Ulrichsweb in the alphabetical list of databases. The fastest way to do this is to type 'Ulrichsweb' into the "Find Database" search box, then press find:

Screenshot showing Ulrichsweb typed into the find database search box

Now click the Ulrichsweb link (and maybe sign in with your UA username and password, if you're at home):

Screenshot of Ulrichsweb link

Within Ulrichsweb, search the name of the journal you want to check. In the search results, look for a referee jersey icon next to the name of the journal you searched for. The referee jersey indicates that the journal is refereed (aka scholarly or peer-reviewed):

Screenshot of jersey icon mentioned in text above