A scholarly journal (also referred to as academic journals, scientific journals, or peer reviewed journals) is a periodical that contains articles written by experts in a particular field of study. The articles are intended to be read by other experts or students of the field, and they are usually much more sophisticated and advanced than the articles found in general magazines. Many instructors assign research papers or projects that require students to read articles published in scholarly journals. This guide offers some tips to help distinguish scholarly journals from other periodicals.
To communicate the results of recent research in the field of study covered by the journal. Scholarly articles reflect a systematic and thorough study of a single topic, often involving experiments or surveys. Scholarly journals may also occasionally publish review articles that summarize the current state of knowledge on a topic.
Scholarly journals lack the advertising, colorful graphics, and photographs found in popular magazines. The articles are often lengthy, will begin with an abstract, and may include graphs, tables, or charts. Articles will include the name of the author or authors and a list of references.
Scholarly articles are written by the person(s) who did the research being reported. When more than two authors are listed for a single article, the first author listed is usually the primary researcher who supervised or coordinated the work done by the other authors. The most highly-regarded scholarly journals are usually those sponsored by professional associations; for example, the American Psychological Association and the American Chemical Society.
Validity and Reliability
Articles submitted to scholarly journals are evaluated by an editorial board and other experts before they are accepted for publication. This evaluation, often called "peer reviewed," is designed to insure that the articles published are based on solid research that meets the normal standards of the field of study covered by the journal.
Articles in scholarly journals are usually in-depth and contain an advanced vocabulary, since the authors use the technical language or jargon of their field of study. Articles are not written for the general public in that the authors assume the reader already possesses a basic understanding of the field of study.
The authors of scholarly articles always list the sources of their information. These references are usually listed at the end of an article, but they may appear in the form of footnotes, endnotes or a bibliography.
What to Look For in a Scholarly Journal Article
In the Sanctuary of Animals: Honoring God's Creatures through Ritual and Relationship
The Eighteen of 1918–1919: Black Nurses and the Great Flu Pandemic in the United States
Promoting College and Career Readiness: Practical Strategies for the Classroom
Working Backwards: How Employment Regulation Hurts Unemployed Millennials
Empirical research articles report primary research based on observations or experiments in a particular field of study. Qualitative research uses observation methods to analyze behaviors, beliefs, feelings, or values and gather non-numerical data. Quantitative research uses numerical data and statistical, mathematical, or computational techniques to measure, analyze, and explain phenomena or causal relationships.
REMEMBER: Empirical Research Articles are from scholarly or professional journals and are peer-reviewed. They will have the same criteria as scholarly articles listed above (abstract, references, DOI, etc.) but will also have the following criteria:
What to Look For in an Empirical Research Article:
Alternative Terminology to use when Searching the Databases instead of "Empirical Research":
Come Together: Case Specific Cross-Institutional Cooperation of Youth Welfare Services and Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Matrix Training of Receptive Language Skills with a Toddler with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Case Study
A Dyadic Analysis of Power in Sibling and Friend Conflict in Early Childhood
Parenting Deferentially Influences the Development of Boys’ and Girls’ Inhibitory Control
These are periodicals that one typically finds at grocery stores, airport newsstands, or bookstores in a shopping mall. Magazines are designed to appeal to a broad segment of the population, and contain relatively brief articles written in a readable, non-technical language. Articles written for a wide audience and are useful when looking for information on current events, special topics and general interests. Examples include: Car and Driver, Essence, Rolling Stone, Sports Illustrated, and Psychology Today.
These periodicals, which are usually issued weekly, can be useful for information on trending topics or current events, but their articles seldom have the depth or authority of scholarly articles. Examples include: Newsweek, Time, and U.S. News and World Report.
Professional Publications or Trade Journals
These periodicals cover a specific profession or field of interest and report on developments, trends and news in a profession, trade, or industry. Advertising will be geared toward professionals in that specific field, and may include information promoting upcoming professional conferences. Examples include: Library Journal, Young Children, and Nursing.