Q. How do I know if an article is scholarly or peer reviewed?
A scholarly article is a piece of original research written by an expert in the field and published in an academic journal. Scholarly articles go through a process called peer review.
Peer review is a process where an article is evaluated by other experts in the field who either recommend that the article be accepted for publication or rejected because it does not meet the standards of the journal.
To determine whether or not an article is scholarly and peer reviewed, consider the following factors:
- Is it published in a peer reviewed journal? You can type the name of the journal into any search engine and learn about the submission process to see if it is peer reviewed. Additionally, if you use the library search or a database to find articles, they will usually indicate if it is from a peer reviewed journal.
- Is the author or authors experts in the field? An article will usually indicate which university or organization an author is affiliated with. If you type the author's name and organization into a search engine, you can find out what their qualifications are.
- Does the paper uses headings like "methods," "results," "discussion," and "conclusion?" This indicates the authors have done original, empirical research.
- Is there a bibliography/works cited/reference list? A scholarly article will always cite numerous sources. Most of these references will be to other scholarly articles.
- Does it have charts, maps, surveys and/or words like "experiment," "sample size," or "investigation" in the abstract? These visuals and words indicate an original research study.
It is important to note that not all articles published in peer reviewed journals are peer reviewed. To learn more about the difference between primary research articles (which are peer reviewed) and secondary sources (not necessarily peer reviewed), view this FAQ on primary research.
Watch the video below for more information on identifying scholarly articles.