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What is a Scholarly Article?

Your instructor may tell you to only use “scholarly” sources for a project. They may also call them “academic,” “peer-reviewed,” “professional journals.” What does that mean? How can I tell a scholarly source versus a “popular” source?

Scholarly Journals

Authority: Will list academic credentials of the author(s).

Publisher: Typically a university or academically inclined organization.

Documentation: Will contain footnotes, references, and/or bibliographies.

Peer Review: Examined by experts in the field for accuracy and research validity before publication.

Audience: Scholars, researchers, students.

Frequency: Monthly, Quarterly, or 2-3 times per year.

Content: Focus on text and tabular data, less on visual appeal; advertising for field-related products.

Examples: JAMA, American Journal of Nursing, Journal of Faculty Development, Journal of Developmental Education, Nursing Outlook.

Popular Magazines

Authority: May/may not list academic credentials of the author(s).

Publisher: Typically a commercial publishing firm or media organization.

Documentation: May/may not contain footnotes, references, and/or bibliographies.

Peer Review: No peer review process.

Audience: General public.

Frequency: Generally a weekly or monthly publication.

Content: Colorful, glossy, many photographs and illustrations; high importance on visual appeal; advertising for commercial products.

Examples: Time, Business Week, Psychology Today, People, Forbes, Money, U.S. News and World Report.