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What is a Scholarly (Refereed) Journal?

What is a scholarly (refereed) journal? Check the points below to determine if a publication is scholarly or popular in nature. Ask the librarian at the Research Assistance Desk for further assistance.



Articles are usually lengthier

Articles are usually shorter in length

Bibliographies or references are always included

Usually do not have bibliographies or references

Authors are experts

Authors are often generalists

Articles are signed by the authors

Articles are sometimes unsigned

Audience is the scholarly reader, such as professors, researchers, students

Audience is the general population

Standardized formats are usually followed like APA and MLA

Various formats which are often unstructured

Written in the jargon of the field

Written for anyone to understand

Any illustrations support the text, such as maps, tables, photographs

Often profusely illustrated for marketing appeal

When using full-text articles found in electronic resources consider the criteria above.  Also, look for bibliographies, footnotes and catch words which indicate that the article is from a scholarly journal. Some electronic databases, such as General OneFile (InfoTrac), allow a search to be restricted to a scholarly (refereed) journal, while discipline-specific electronic resources, such as ERIC and PsycINFO, contain very few popular magazines. Refereed journals are journals whose articles are carefully reviewed by experts on the topic prior to publication.

*This information is modified from "Scholarly Journals vs. Popular Magazines" by Gail M. Staines in Empowering Students; Hands-on Library Instruction Activities edited by Marilyn P. Whitmore (Library Instruction Publications, 1996). It was adapted from a handout created by the University of Michigan, and a figure published in "Cooperative Learning in Bibliographic Instruction" by Kim N. Cook, et al (Research Strategies, Winter 1995: 17-25).

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