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FAQ: How do I know if my articles are scholarly (peer-reviewed)?

Short, simple how-to and demos of frequently asked questions about using the Libraries and information resources

How to Identify a Scholarly, Peer-Reviewed Journal Article

What are scholarly, peer-reviewed journal articles?

Scholarly articles are those that are reviewed by multiple experts from their related  field(s) and then published in academic journals. There are academic journals for every subject area. The primary purpose of scholarly journals is to represent and disseminate research and scholarly discussions among scholars (faculty, researchers, students) within, and across, different academic disciplines.

Scholarly peer-reviewed journal articles can be identified by the following characteristics:

  • Author(s): They are typically written by professors, researchers, or other scholars who specialize in the field and are often  identified by the academic institution at which they work.
  • Purpose: They are published by professional associations, university publishers or other academic publishers  to  report research results or discuss ongoing research in detail.
  • Language: They are highly specialized and may use technical language.
  • Layout: They will cite their sources and include footnotes, endnotes, or parenthetical citations and/or a list of bibliographic references.
  • Content: They may include graphs and tables and they undergo a peer review process before publication.

Helpful tips for finding scholarly articles:

  1. Limit your search to peer-reviewed journals only. Some databases allow you to limit searches for articles to peer reviewed journals only. For example, Academic Search Complete has a check-off "Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) Articles" filter:
    Detail of Academic Search Complete search results, showing the filter for "Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) Journals"
    and UW Libraries Search includes a filter to "Peer Reviewed Journals:"
    Detail of UW Libraries Search results, showing the filter for "Peer Reviewed Journals"
    Tip:In some databases you may have to go to an “advanced” or “expert” search screen to do this.


  2. Use Ulrichsweb to determine if the journal is peer-reviewed. Need to verify that a journal is peer reviewed (refereed)? Search the Icon of a padlock Ulrichsweb periodicals directory for the title of the journal. If you see this icon icon of a referee jersey , the journal is refereed.

What is a Scholarly Journal Article?