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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, scientists, and professors write scholarly articles. These articles share the results of studies and experiments. Scholarly articles are sometimes also called peer-reviewed articles or journal articles.

Sometimes you will write papers that need to cite scholarly articles. There are two good reasons for this:

  1. Scholarly articles share thoughtful, careful research, not random observations or opinions.
  2. Scholarly articles go through peer-review before publication. Peer-review means experts -- the author's peers -- read the article. They then decide if the article is good enough to publish.

Where do I find scholarly articles?

Typically, you can't go to Google to find scholarly articles -- at least not for free.

Instead, you should use an article database that the library pays for on your behalf. Academic Search Premier has articles on every subject. That makes it a good place to do most research.

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

90 second video: how to tell if an article is scholarly

How can I be sure an article is scholarly?

If you didn't watch the video above, you can read this.  Ask yourself these questions as you try to decide if an article is scholarly.

What does the title of the article look like?

Titles of scholarly articles are usually very clear. The tell you exactly what is in there. But that doesn't mean you will always understand the title. The title might have lots of big, scientific words.

The title might also have words like “study,” “survey,” or “analysis.” 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 have 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 where they work. Another clue is that articles with multiple authors are more likely to be scholarly. Articles without authors listed, or anonymous authors, are almost always 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. We subscribe to a database called Ulrichsweb. It has information on journals and magazines. It will often say if a journal is scholarly.

In 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