Answered By: Gabe Gossett
Last Updated: Jan 14, 2016     Views: 5258

A peer-reviewed article is also sometimes referred to as a scholarly article. These are articles in journals that go through a review process by other experts in the field. For instance, if I am a professor of education and I write an article and submit it to a prestigious journal it must first go through a review process by other experts before it is accepted for publication. It is a rigorous process that ensures that the articles published within journals are sound pieces of scholarship.

It is worth noting that not every article in a peer-reviewed journal is necessarily a peer-reviewed article! For example, many peer-reviewed journals include book reviews, interviews, news, and more. Make sure you look for the characteristics below to be certain that you are reading a peer-reviewed article or contact us for advice. 

Western Libraries subscribes to Ulrich's, which is a database where you can search by journal titles in order to determine whether it is a peer-reviewed source. 

Here is a table describing the difference between popular and scholarly sources.

Popular and Scholarly Sources

Many of the assignments for your courses may ask you to use specific sources or types of sources such as popular magazine articles or scholarly or professional journal articles. There are some basic ways that you can identify these types of periodicals.

Type of Source Popular Magazines Trade Journals   Scholarly Journals
Examples
The Economist, Psychology Today, Time, National Geographic
Advertising Age, The CPA Journal, Billboard, American Libraries
Journal of the History of Ideas, College English, Antiquity, Science
Audience
For the general public; use language understood by the average reader
For those in a particular trade or industry
For students, scholars, researchers; uses specialized vocabulary of the discipline
Content
May report research as news items,feature stories, editorials and opinion pieces
Reports on problems or issues in a particular industry
Reports original research, theory; may include an abstract
Appearance
Highly visual, a lot of advertising, color, photos, short articles with no bibliographies or references
Visual, contains advertising, color, photos,
Little or no advertising, has tables & charts, high concentration of print, lengthy articles, bibliographies & references
Authors
Author may not be named, frequently a staff writer, not a subject expert
Staff writers, freelance authors
Authors are specialists, articles are signed, & credentials such as degrees, university affiliation are often given.

If you would like to know how to search for peer reviewed articles in the Western Libraries' databases contact a librarian using the information provided on the right.

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