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Scholarly journal explained

Scholarly Journals

Scholarly journals are published periodically, ranging in frequency from monthly to quarterly or even only twice yearly. The key differences between magazines and journals are that journals are written for and by experts in their chosen field and that they focus on a particular research interest, such as experimental psychology or aerodynamics. Scholarly journals are published in every academic discipline and are used as a means for scholars and researchers to share their research and discoveries with others who are also experts in their discipline. In the course of publishing their own research, academics will review the work of other experts and will also raise challenging questions about areas of their disciplines that can be pursued in future research. In short, scholarly journals provide a sounding board for those involved in deeply exploring any academic discipline.

By nature, scholarly journals are written in a style different from popular magazines. Since they are addressed to a specialized audience, articles published in scholarly journals are infused with the language of the discipline on which they focus. Articles written for experts in psychology, for example, will utilize the specialized vocabulary used by psychologists in their study of human behavior. This makes them largely inaccessible to the general public, but these articles are not written for the general public in the first place. They are written for other experts in the field. Important studies published in scholarly journals will be reported in the popular press in magazines such as Time and Newsweek, but the reports of the studies in the popular press greatly simplify the findings so that the general ideas are easily accessible to any reader. Not so, the scholarly journals. Here the results of the studies are published in great detail using the specialized language available to experts in the field. Data collected and analyzed as part of the study will also be included in the published results.


 image of scholarly journals 

  • discuss research in detail with charts and graphs of data
  •  include a substantial bibliography
  •  have an abstract
  •  are written for and by scholars (usually by college professors)
  •  can be "peer reviewed" (approved by experts in the field)
  •  usually longer – more than 3 pages
  •  very few, if any, ads


When to use scholarly articles

Use scholarly articles to support your argument and/or thesis. Because of the level of authority and credibility evident in scholarly sources, they contribute a great deal to the overall quality of your papers. Use of scholarly sources is an expected attribute of academic course work.

Peer review reflects an evaluative approach to selecting materials for inclusion in journals and books based on professional review. The process might also be referred to as refereeing. Peers, in this case, are professionals and experts who have an intimate familiarity with the subject matter being explored in the article or chapter. These are the author's "peers," those who also are heavily engaged within the profession or academic discipline for which the author is writing.

In all disciplines, knowledge is built by responding to the ideas and discoveries of those who came before us. Scholarly journal articles are unique in that they require authors to document and make verifiable the sources of the facts, ideas, and methods they used to arrive at their insights and conclusions. Scholarly articles also strive to identify and discuss the merits of alternative explanations and viewpoints for the positions they espouse. This makes it easier to assess the truth, as well as the strengths and weaknesses, of the claims made in a paper. This is the case for those with knowledge of a subject (for example, your professor), as well as for those just beginning to learn about a subject (for example, you).

Anyone can say just about anything in articles posted on the web. Scholarly journal articles, unlike web-based or popular magazine articles, are designed and structured to provide the elements necessary to most thoroughly evaluate the validity and truth of an author's position.

How to evaluate a scholarly article

  • Is it peer-reviewed? The peer-review process used by many scholarly journals is designed to guarantee a certain amount of accuracy and quality in the publication of scholarly information.
  • Medical and Health: It is especially important that medical and health information be up to date. You could use an older source for history and background information, but make sure you check more recent sources for new developments. Generally, older than 5 years is considered out of date for clinical use.
  • Look closely at the language used in the information source. Examine the types of adjectives and verbs used; is there evidence of superlatives/absolutes (“always” and “never”), emotional/sweeping generalizations, and exaggeration? Example: "This is obviously the most important idea ever conceived!" or "All teenagers are distracted drivers since they are always texting."