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WRT 101/102 - M. Young : Peer-Reviewed/Scholarly Articles

What are Scholarly/Peer-Reviewed Journals?

Scholarly/Academic Journals

Scholarly journals are written by academics or experts in a particular field or discipline to communicate with other academics or experts in that field or discipline. These journals share ideas and theories, research findings, and more while helping readers stay current on developments in that field or discipline. Scholarly journals are publications whose content is:

  1. Written by academics or experts in a particular field or discipline
  2. Targeted primarily to academic audiences or other experts in a particular field or discipline
  3. Academically focused on research including original research, methodology, theory, and/or experimentation
  4. Usually published by a professional association or academic press
  5. Cited properly in the form of a bibliography or footnotes and in-text citations
  6. Professional in appearance with no spelling or grammatical errors, advertisements, or unrelated images

Note: You may come across or be asked to find a journal that is referred to as "academic". In these cases, it is often safe to assume that "academic" and "scholarly" are interchangeable, but you should always ask your instructor for clarification and confirmation when finding sources labeled "academic" rather than "scholarly".

Peer Reviewed Journals

Peer reviewed journals (also sometimes called refereed journals) include content which meets the above criteria for scholarly journals, but whose content has also gone through a process of feedback and iteration before publication. In short, this means that:

  • First, the article was written by an expert or scholar in the field or on the topic.
  • Next, the article was reviewed by other experts or scholars in the field or on the topic who assess the article for accuracy and other indicators of scholarship before providing feedback to the author.
  • Finally, the author made any necessary edits or changes to the article based on the feedback provided before the article was published.

-Southern New Hampshire University, 2023


What are the benefits of peer-reviewed articles?

Firstly, it acts as a filter to ensure that only high quality research is published, especially in reputable journals, by determining the validity, significance and originality of the study. Secondly, peer review is intended to improve the quality of manuscripts that are deemed suitable for publication. - National Institute of Health, Oct 24, 2014



All peer-reviewed articles are scholarly/academic articles, but not all scholarly/academic articles are peer-reviewed.
-San José State University, 2023

Popular vs. Scholarly/Peer-Reviewed Articles (From UC Santa Cruz University Library.)


The compilation of resources for research papers or projects necessarily includes not only books, but also articles from periodicals (i.e., journals and/or magazines)—vital sources of up-to-date information and scholarship. When issuing assignments, instructors often specify whether articles consulted are to be from popular or scholarly publications (the former usually referred to as magazines, the latter as journals). Although popular sources are not without merit and may also contain well-considered writing, the purpose of distinguishing between these types of works is to determine their degree of authority and depth of research on a given topic, and thereby their intrinsic academic value. The following chart points out the distinctions between popular and scholarly periodicals.


Popular vs. Scholarly

Broad range of topics, presented in shorter articles Specific, often narrowly focused topics in lengthy, in-depth articles
Articles offer overview of subject matter; reportage, rather than original research; sometimes contain feature articles and reports on current social issues andpublic opinion Articles often contain previously unpublished research and detail new developments in field
Intended to attract a general readership without any particular expertise or advanced education Intended for specialist readership of researchers, academics, students and professionals
Written by staff (not always attributed) or freelance writers using general, popular language Written by specialists and researchers in subject area, usually employing technical, subject-specific language and jargon
Edited and approved for publication in-house (not peer-reviewed) Critically evaluated by peers (fellow scholars)   in field for content, scholarly soundness, and academic value
Articles rarely contain references or footnotes and follow no specific format Well-researched, documented articles nearly always follow standard format:
abstract, introduction, literature review, methodology, results, conclusion,   bibliography/references
Designed to attract eye of potential newsstand customers: usually filled with photographs or illustrations, printed on glossier paper Sober design: mostly text with some tables or graphs accompanying articles; usually little or no photography; negligible, if any, advertising; rarely printed on high-gloss paper
Each issue begins with page number '1' Page numbers of issues within a volume (year) are usually consecutive (i.e., first page of succeeding issue is number following last page number of previous issue)
Presented to entertain, promote point of view, and/or sell products Intended to present researchers' opinions and findingsbased on original research
Examples: Newsweek, Rolling Stone, Vogue Examples: American Sociological ReviewJournal of Popular Culture, Sustainable Agriculture