5.2 What are scholarly journals?

You should always check whether or not a journal article has been peer reviewed or refereed. Before an article can be considered for publication in a peer reviewed journal, it 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.

Here is a checklist to help you identify a scholarly journal article. The more 'Yes' ticks the better!
You can download and print a copy of this table here.

This journal: Yes No
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 for 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.