When an assignment asks for scholarly articles, it means you must seek out peer-reviewed research on the topic. While you can often find such articles on your own, it’s helpful to understand the basics of how scholarly articles differ from popular sources in order to do your best work on such assignments.
A scholarly article is an original piece of writing that reports on or analyzes academic research. This type of writing is often characterized by carefully cited references, the use of footnotes and bibliographies, and an engagement with the literature in the field. In addition, a scholarly article should present its findings in an objective manner. Personal opinions and persuasive techniques are not used.
Articles in scholarly journals are written by professors and researchers in fields of study and are intended to share the results of their research and analysis with other researchers in that same field. These articles are published in scholarly journals and have undergone a review process to make sure that they meet academic standards for their subject area before they are accepted for publication.
UMGC’s online resources are a great place to start for finding scholarly articles on topics in any discipline. Our subject guides provide recommended resources for many different subjects including relevant library databases and web sites, along with research tips and citation help. In addition, UMGC Library OneSearch allows you to search a number of our database collections simultaneously. For the most comprehensive searches, it’s always a good idea to also use our individual databases by title.
The first step in determining if an article is scholarly is to look at the author’s credentials. Generally, scholars have advanced degrees in their field and are affiliated with academic institutions. The article’s intended audience is another clue as well. Typically, articles found in scholarly journals are intended for professionals or those seeking a deeper understanding of the subject matter than would be possible in more popular publications. The language is often highly technical, and some background knowledge or familiarity with the subject matter is assumed.
If you have determined that an article is scholarly, the next step is to examine the source of the information. Look for the words “Refereed” or a similar word in the title of the journal where the article was published. You may also want to examine the Ulrichsweb Global Serials Directory (under the letter U in Databases by Title). This website lists information about journals and indicates whether or not they are refereed. Some databases will automatically label an article as scholarly if it was published in a refereed journal. These are useful tools to help you quickly narrow down your search and save time. However, the final decision is still yours and you should read each article carefully. The most reliable and authoritative articles are usually those in prestigious, peer-reviewed journals.