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Introduction to Rutgers University Libraries

This Library Guide introduces you to the basic services provided by Rutgers Libraries. It contains short videos to help you get started.

What does scholarly mean?

  • A scholarly article is written by researchers who are experts in their field.
  • Researchers submit articles to the editors of the journals, who have them reviewed by several experts in the field, before deciding whether or not to publish the article. This is referred to as a scholarly, peer reviewed or refereed article. 
  • Newspapers, news magazines, and popular magazines are not scholarly. 
  • Trade journals often provide information about current developments in a field, but they are not peer reviewed, so they are not scholarly.
  • Generally, scholarly articles are more than 8 pages in length with diagrams charts and graphs, have a list of references at the end, are written in the specialized jargon of the field, and note the institution affiliation of the author.

How can I tell if an article is scholarly?

Typical features of a scholarly article:

  • Length: scholarly articles are longer, usually at least 8 pages, but there is no set rule, and they usually include diagrams, charts, or graphs.
  • Bibliography: scholarly articles always have a list of cited works.
  • Language: scholarly articles are written for scholars and not the general public, so the language is specialized and technical.
  • Authors: scholarly articles are written by experts who usually have PhDs and academic affiliations.

Scholarly articles are published in  scholarly journals:

  • Some databases will allow you to limit your search to scholarly journals, other databases may provide further details about journals such as whether they are scholarly.
  • Publisher databases will include information about a peer review process if the journal is scholarly.
  • If you are still not sure, please ask a librarian.

Just because your article is published in a scholarly journal doesn't mean your article is scholarly because scholarly journals contain the following items which are NOT scholarly:

  • Book reviews
  • Editorials
  • Letters to the editor
  • Short news items

If you are unsure about using the information you've found, be sure to check with a librarian or your professor.

Scholarly VS Nonfiction Books

Finding scholarly/peer reviewed articles

Where do I find scholarly articles?

Where do I find scholarly articles?

While it is possible to find some scholarly articles on the Internet using a search engine such as Google, many scholarly articles are not freely available to the public. The Libraries subscribe to many Indexes and Databases that contain scholarly articles. Just as not every item in a scholarly journal is scholarly, not everything in an Index or Database is scholarly. Some of the databases, such as those provided by the vendor EBSCOhost allow you to limit your search results to Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) Journals.


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