5.3 What are scholarly journals

You need to assess the quality of any work before using and citing it in an assignment. Ideally, you are looking for scholarly works that have been peer reviewed, also known as refereed. Before it can be considered for publication, a journal article, in a peer reviewed journal, is read by other experts in the field and checked for accuracy and proper academic methods and standards.

Make sure you look at the WriteSite Unit 2: Evaluating sources - 2. Reputable and reliable academic sources.

Once you have obtained material, make sure you evaluate it.

Here is a checklist to help you. The more 'Yes' ticks the better!

This journal:Yes
is refereed or peer-reviewed

contains articles that have a bibliography, in-text citations or footnotes

includes an abstract for each article

is published by an academic press, scholarly organisation or society

has authors who have academic credentials

has few advertisements, usually limited to academic interests

contains articles that use the language or jargon of the discipline and formal academic writing rather than colloquialisms

reports on original research and contains substantial articles longer than a few pages.  

Some of the ways you can check for these details include:

  • looking to see the publisher's name, editorial board and rules of submitting articles. In a print journal, this information will be on the inside cover; in an ejournal, it will be on the website.
  • using a directory, like Ulrichs, that lists all the academic and scholarly journals in the field. You can find Ulrichs on the Library's Databases and electronic resources webpage.
  • using the Library's catalogues and databases to see if the authors have written other scholarly works.