Answered By: Jennifer Harris
Last Updated: Sep 12, 2018     Views: 4874

Scholarly 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.

Check out NCSU Libraries video, "Peer Review in Three Minutes" for more information about the peer review process.

Note: Keep in mind that articles from peer reviewed journals are considered scholarly, but not all scholarly articles are from peer reviewed journals (in other words, just because an article was not published in a peer reviewed journal, doesn't automatically mean it isn't considered a scholarly source).

Peer review status is one indicator of whether a source is scholarly, but in any case, sources should be evaluated to determine not just if it is scholarly, but whether the source is relevant and current enough to be used in your research.

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