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Geography and Environmental Studies Research: Identify Scholarly Articles

What is a Scholarly Journal Article?

If your professor told you to use scholarly, or peer-reviewed, sources for your assignment, you need to find an article published in a peer-reviewed journal. Use a library search tools to locate articles, then check them for the following features:

checkmarkIs this an article that was published in a journal? (Hint: Look near the bottom or top of the page for a journal name, volume number, issue number, year and page numbers.)

Does the article tell you where the author works (and maybe their contact details)? (Hint: Look for footnotes by the author's name.)

Is there an abstract at the beginning of the article? (A summary of the article, written by the authors.)

Does the article end with a bibliography or list of works cited? (There could also be extensive footnotes.)

Is the language in the article more technical than a typical magazine or newspaper?

Does the article's formatting look really boring? (No advertisements or glossy color pictures.)

If you answered YES to most of these questions, the article you're looking at is probably scholarly!

Limiting to Scholarly Articles

Many databases let you to limit your search results to only scholarly articles. You can do this at two points in the search process.

1. Select Articles on the Database Main Page Before Beginning Your Search

Limit to Articles in the document type drop down menu

2. Check the Article Box After You Have a List of Search Results To Remove Sources That Are Not Scholarly Articles

limit to articles in the document type box on the right hand side of result page


Finding Information about a Journal

Not sure if a journal is scholarly? Look up the journal in Ulrich's Periodicals Directory. This directory will give you information about the journal such as type, publisher and what databases you can find it indexed in. 

If the journal​ has a striped referred shirt next to it's name, it is a peer reviewed journal.


Scholarly or Popular Article? (Video Tutorial)

Video created by the Peabody Library.