The Problem: Your professor has assigned a research paper for your final class project. She requires that most of your references come from scholarly (peer reviewed) journals. You’ve heard of scholarly journal articles but don’t know how to identify them. This short lesson will teach you how to identify scholarly journal articles. Instructional Objective: You will be able to quickly identify a scholarly (peer-reviewed) journal article by recognizing some of the key elements of a scholarly journal. After you complete the lesson there will be a practice quiz to test your expertise in scholarly journal article identification!
(Read the definition to the class)While there is no perfect definition for what a scholarly journal is, this definition touches the key points. Scholarly journal articles are peer-reviewed – meaning that when authors submit an article the article is read by researchers in that field. The reviewers make sure the article describes sound research methods and displays a high degree of accuracy.Scholarly journal articles also have a few key elements that make them unique – such as a list of references and authors who are experts in a field. I’ll spend some time talking about these key elements and will show you how to identify them. Once you are able to identify these elements you will be able to easily identify a scholarly article. Each slide will give you a “clue” that will help you identify the key elements of a scholarly journal article. Take notes on these clues. You’ll take the short quiz at the end of the lesson to test your identification skills.
Scholarly journal articles are written by experts in a field of study. In this case we’re examining an article from a history journal. Take a look at the author’s affiliation. This journal article let’s us know that the author is affiliated with Northeastern University and that she’s probably a faculty member there. Universities and other research facilities such as laboratories or even private companies (such as GE or Boeing) are an indication that the author is an expert in a particular field of study.Some journals will present the author’s credentials as well – you might see PhD or M.D. next to the author’s name.
Just before the main content of the article begins you’ll find an abstract. An abstract is a short summary of the article usually written by one of the authors.The abstract serves to give busy researchers a preview of the article so that they can quickly gather and organize articles that are relevant to their own research. The abstracts are very useful to researchers at all levels – including undergraduates. Before you read an article or print one off read the abstract first. It will save you time and change!Most scholarly journal articles have an abstract. This is a unique feature of scholarly articles. Non-scholarly publications do not include an abstract.
Look for a very serious and dry writing style. You will never find a scholarly article to have a captivating writing style . Scholarly journal articles almost exclusively report on research done by the authors. Authors will discuss their research methods and often use specialized vocabulary. Read the first sentence of the paragraph on this slide. It’s very dry and uses vocabulary that only researchers would use when communicating with other researchers.
All articles from scholarly journals will have an extensive list of references. Some journals refer to this reference list as a bibliography. Sources are cited at the end of an article to clearly document the research done in the article. Please note that citations are in a formal style such as APA or MLA. Take a look at the citation I highlighted here as an example of formal citation style.Keep in mind that magazine articles and newspaper articles do not include a list of references. The reference list is unique to scholarly journal articles.
Make life easy when you can! A good number of the databases the library subscribes to have special limiters that will allow you to search exclusively for scholarly journal articles. In this case EBSCO databases give you the limiter “Peer Reviewed”. Other databases like Wilson will call this limiter “Scholarly Journal”.Use these limiters when you need to find scholarly journal articles.
(Go over answers with class)If you got more than one answer wrong on the you can review my handout and notes. You should also spend some time flipping through scholarly journals and looking for the identification clues I gave you in this lesson. If you only got one answer wrong or scored perfectly you should be able to identify most scholarly journal articles on your own.
Of course, you’ll encounter a few curveballs from time to time so you may need some help in distinguishing these resources from others. In this case please feel free to ask a librarian at the reference desk for help.
How to Identify Scholarly Journal Articles<br />The quick and dirty guide<br />
What is a Scholarly Journal?<br />A scholarly (or peer reviewed) journal includes articles that are primarily research based. Articles are written by experts in the field and these articles go through a rigorous peer review process before publication. Sources are always cited to give credit to supporting research. <br />
Quiz<br />In a scholarly journal article an abstract is:<br />A piece of strange artwork on the first page.<br />A summary of the article usually written by the author.<br />A list of the sources cited in the article.<br />Authors of scholarly journal articles are always:<br />Experts in their field and usually affiliated with a research institution.<br />Professional staff writers or journalists.<br />Professional humorists<br />Which of these types of articles is most likely to have a list of references?<br />Newspaper<br />Magazine<br />Scholarly Journal<br />Many databases contain limiters that allow to search exclusively for scholarly/peer reviewed journal articles:<br />True<br />False<br />The writing style, or tone, of a journal article is:<br />Serious - written for researchers<br />Relaxed – written for a general audience<br />Just like a newspaper article.<br />
Quiz Answer KeyAnswers are in bold<br />In a scholarly journal article an abstract is:<br />A piece of strange artwork on the first page.<br />A summary of the article usually written by the author.<br />A list of the sources cited in the article.<br />Authors of scholarly journal articles are always:<br />Experts in their field and usually affiliated with a research institution.<br />Professional staff writers or journalists.<br />Professional humorists<br />Which of these types of articles is most likely to have a list of references?<br />Newspaper<br />Magazine<br />Scholarly Journal<br />Many databases contain limiters that allow to search exclusively for scholarly/peer reviewed journal articles:<br />True<br />False<br />The writing style, or tone, of a journal article is:<br />Serious - written for researchers<br />Relaxed – written for a general audience<br />Just like a newspaper article!<br />
Ask for Help!<br />LRC Reference Desk<br />346-2836<br />email@example.com<br />Hours: <br />M-W 8:30 am – 9 pm<br />Th - F 8:30 am – 5:00 pm<br />Sun 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm<br />
A particular slide catching your eye?
Clipping is a handy way to collect important slides you want to go back to later.