Skip to Main Content

Research 101 - Finding Articles: Scholarly Articles

Get the basics on articles & databases!

Picture of popular & scholarly journalsWhat are Scholarly vs. Popular Sources?

Your sources of information can be popular sources, written by staff writers & meant to provide general information for the general public, or scholarly sources, researched & written by professional researchers & experts in their fields to provide the latest discussion & research to other researchers in that field.

Scholarly articles are often your best choice for finding research,  and professors often require you to use scholarly articles in your papers and presentations.

Use these rsources to find out more:

Image above courtesy of CLIP Tutorial. Retrieved from

Figure holding magnifying glass with word QUALITY showing throughWhat is Peer Review?

Peer review is a form of quality control--an extra step that articles can go through before being published.

Peer-review articles are specifically scholarly articles that go through a process of review by the author’s peers.

The Peer-review Process:

  • The author submits the article to the journal for review by experts who specialize in the same area of research as the author
  • These reviewers evaluate the article and its sources
  • If they approve, the article is published; if they find it lacking in scholarly rigor, they reject it and it is not published.

The peer review process is very different from the publication process for a popular magazine, such as Time. Popular magazine articles are written by staff writers for a general audience. These staff writers submit the articles to their editors, who then decide whether the article will be published.

Are Scholarly Articles Free from Bias or Error?

No--they need to be read critically & evaluated, just like any source of information. But because of peer review, they are are less likely than other sources of information to have error. Yet they can also be very biased; see the readings below.

What about impartiality?

Read these to find out more:

What about predatory or fake journals?

Yes, there are predatory & fake journals out there! Reader beware! Take a look at these:

Engaging with Scholarly Articles

Scholarly articles are the best resources for quality information.

Learning to read them & other scholarly resources effectively is the key to using them effectively in your own research and writing!

How do I Get Scholarly Articles in the Library Databases?

Once you are in the database and looking at the results of your initial search, look for an option to limit to Scholarly, Academic, or Peer Reviewed articles/journals.

First, take the challenge below.

Then to learn more, proceed to the next page in our tutorial: Research Databases.

Take the Challenge!

Take a look at these three articles::

  1. Sustainable Agriculture
  2. Our Quest to Create a Sustainable Farm (open the PDF Full Text)
  3. Rural Environmental Planning in a Family Farm: Education, Extension, and Sustainability (open the PDF Full Text)

Which articles are scholarly? And how do you know? Choose the article(s) below that you think could be scholarly & find out!

Sorry--Wrong Answer! This is NOT a scholarly article. Here are some clues:

  • Only 1 page long
  • Color pictures
  • No references at end of article
  • No author credited
  • Color advertisements with article

Screen shots of website showing many photos & ads

Sorry--Wrong Answer! This is a NOT a scholarly article. Here are some clues:

  • Color picture and color in the article title
  • Color advertisements after the article
  • Author is not a researcher
  • No bibliography of references cite at end of article
  • Published in Mother Earth News

Screen shots showing colored pictures & ads

Screen shots of article showing author info & name of publication

Correct! This is a scholarly article. Here are some clues:

  • No color photos
  • Very specific article title
  • Technical language
  • Sections on methods, results/findings
  • References at end of article, which also appear to be research articles
  • Language assumes researchers as audience, more technical in nature