Answered By: Colin Magee
Last Updated: May 19, 2021     Views: 742

Generally speaking, scholarly articles are articles found in research journals, which have been peer-reviewed.  This means that they are articles written by experts, like scientists, doctors, and teachers, who do research as part of their daily job.  These articles are authoritative since they are written by experts and are usually on a specific topic.

Periodicals are articles found in magazines and newspapers.  These are articles written by journalists or reporters, and they usually are written to inform the public or tell the news.


Scholarly journals

Below are criteria you may use to decide whether your article is from a scholarly journal.


Scholarly journals:

-Intended audience is scholars, specialists, and students.

-Content covers research results.

-Writing style is more complex.

-Written to further the study of the discipline.

-Written by specialists in the field, usually scholars with Masters degrees or PhDs.

-Information is current (6 months to 3 years).

-Contributors are not paid when their work is published.

-Usually contain documentation (bibliographies or references).

-Should have objective viewpoint (the author should not have an obvious "agenda" or point of view that they are trying to promote).



Below are criteria you may use to decide whether your article is from a periodical



-Intended audience is general public or knowledgeable layperson.

-Covers popular topics and current affairs.

-Written to inform or entertain.

-Written by professional journalists, not necessarily specialists in the field.

-Contributors are generally paid when the work is published.

-Information is very current (week or weeks).

-Probably contains many color photographs and advertisements.

-Usually do not contain a bibliography or list of sources.

-May be editorially biased or slanted.


What is the difference between Online and Internet Sources?

Often an instructor will tell students they must use a scholarly journal article for research and cannot use an article from the Internet. Traditionally, library collections were mostly print (paper) materials. Today, many libraries have replaced some print materials with online resources. 

Althought these online resources (like eBooks on EBSCOhost and ProQuest and EBSCOHost Web databases) are accessed via the Internet, most of these articles first appeared in the print (paper) version. Librarians found that they could offer access to a large number of scholarly journals inexpensively through online databases rather than buying the print versions. Articles from these databases are not considered "Internet" sources, even though they are accessed via the web.

On the Internet, anyone can put up a web page, whether they know what they are talking about or not. On the Internet, biases, hidden agendas, disguised commercial promotions, and just plain false information are not monitored. Internet sources do not stay the same as they can be changed easily; and links can distract you from your topic, that is, if they are still working. It can be hard to find important information such as the author's name, whether the author has any expertise on the subject, dates, references and/or bibliographies, if you can find them at all.


The scholarly publication process

Journals are reliable sources, because they have been through some form of critical review and evaluation. The articles in journals are held to quality standards by peer review, editors, and publishers. This overview insures that articles are logical and organized effectively and that the science is valid. 

"The scientific method is the basis of scientific investigation. A scientist will pose a question and formulate a hypothesis as a potential explanation or answer to the question. The hypothesis will be tested through a series of experiments. The results of the experiments will either prove or disprove the hypothesis. Hypotheses that are consistent with available data are conditionally accepted" (James Cook University, Townsville, Australia).


The peer review process

"Peer review is the evaluation of scientific, academic, or professional work by others working in the same field" (Oxford Dicitionary of English -- 2nd edition revised). 

Peer reviewing means that the paper is submitted to experts in the field for assessment, much like a thesis, before being accepted or rejected for publication. Although you can usually assume that a peer-reviewed journal contains peer-reviewed articles, it is not always the case. Articles most likely to be peer reviewed are: original research and commentaries on original research, critical scholarly texts, and review articles. Review articles are an attempt by one or more writers to sum up the current state of research on a particular topic.


Refereed articles and journals

Much like a peer-reviewed article, a refereed article is an article that has been carefully reviewed and scrutinized by scholars or experts in the field. However, they are not members of the editorial staff or board. In many cases the article has been subjected to a blind review process by one or more external readers.

There are several ways to identify a refereed journal.

-There is a statement (usually hard to find) in the journal that tells you that articles are refereed.

-The journal has a list of editorial board members.

-Article has "Submitted" and "Accepted" dates shown.

-Journal is included in a database and can be limited to "refereed."

-Journal is classified in Ulrich's International Periodicals Directory as "refereed."

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