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GEW 101B: Writing as a Rhetorical Act

Using Scholarly Articles

There are several ways to determine whether or not an article is scholarly or peer-reviewed.

1) One way to know that an article is scholarly or peer-reviewed is if the database gives a visual indication as to whether an article is scholarly.  For example, the second image below indicates that the article is scholarly, unlike the first image, which indicates it is from a periodical that is not peer-reviewed.

It's important to note, however, that this visual indication does not definitively mean the article is peer-reviewed.  In fact, some articles published in peer-reviewed journals may not actually be peer-reviewed. For example, book reviews, editorials, and news items do not undergo the same review process as research articles. Therefore, even if the database gives a visual indication that the article is from a peer-reviewed or scholarly journal you still need to ask the questions given below to ensure that it is a scholarly journal article.


This image shows a non peer-reviewed database article. There is callout box pointing to an image of a periodical that reads "Not peer-reviewed."


This image shows a peer reviewed article in the database.  There is a callout box with an arrow pointing to an image of an Academic Journal that reads "Peer-Reviewed."


2) The purpose of a scholarly article is to inform and disseminate original research to scholars. Readers should ask the following questions when trying to determine if an article is scholarly (peer-reviewed):


  • Who are the authors?: Generally researchers or scholars in the academic discipline and/or field.


This is image of the first page of a scholarly article with all of the authors listed.  There is a callout box with an arrow pointing to the authors that reads, "The authors are experts in their field of research and their academic credentials are usually indicated so you can evaluate their qualifications."



  • How is it written?: Scholarly articles contain vocabulary that is technical and specialized according to discipline; audience is generally scholarly peers in that field of study.


Vocabulary in a scholarly article


  • What does it look like?: Scholarly articles may include quantitative data in the form of graphs, charts, and tables supporting research; delineated sections: abstract, literature review, methodology, results, conclusion, and bibliography.


Format of a scholarly article


  • How are the sources cited?: Scholarly articles contain an extensive bibliography and footnotes which are formatted according to research discipline (e.g. MLA - Humanities; APA - Social Sciences, CSE - Sciences).


Cited sources in a scholarly article