Is it scholarly? Distinguishing periodical types online
Most of the articles you use are likely to be found online in full-text
format. Limiting your search to Scholarly/Academic sources, does not guarantee all
of your sources will be scholarly. The following tips can help you determine if your
online source is scholarly.
For characteristics of periodical types see:
Is is scholarly? Distinguishing periodical types
Tips for determining online scholarly sources
Don't let the word Journal influence your decision too strongly. Although the word
Journal is often an indicator of a scholarly publication, it doesn't guarantee it. (Think in
particular of titles such as
Ladies Home Journal, a popular magazine.)
Does the title indicate the periodical is geared toward a very specific and limited
audience? These titles are often trade publications and contain information that will
assist practitioners in a specific field learn more about their work. For example,
Social Studies Teacher and
American School Board Journal are both geared toward very specific audiences, as their
Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall - Scholarly publications often have a quarterly
publication frequency, so those items that indicate an issue as Winter, Spring, Summer or Fall will
most likely be scholarly journals.
Weekly publication date - An indicator that a publication is probably not a
scholarly journal would be a publication date that includes a month, date and year. For example:
March 4, 2010 or 11/25/2011. A date that appears in this manner generally indicates a periodical
that is published on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, which is rarely characteristic of a scholarly
Scholarly journal articles are longer. Articles in scholarly journals,
particularly research articles, will often be in excess of ten pages. Although there may be
articles in scholarly journals that are one to two pages, these tend to be news releases or book
reviews, and would not be the type of article you would use in a research essay.
Professional/trade publication articles vary in length. Articles in trade
publications have varying lengths, some will be longer research articles, but others may be very
Popular magazine articles are shortest. Articles in popular magazines tend to be
short (under five pages).
Are author names listed? If there is no author name it is likely a popular
Are there multiple authors? Often articles in scholarly journals will include a
group of authors.
Are author credentials included? (i.e. PhD or MD) Consistent use of credential
indicates the likelihood it is a scholarly journal. The inclusion of credentials for some, but not
all, articles indicates its is probably a professional publication.
Charts, graphs, tables - Does the record indicate there are supplementary items
such as charts, tables or graphs included? The presence of these items will often indicate
scholarly journal articles, particularly if there are multiples of such items.
Photographs - Does the record indicate there are photographs included? Photographs
are most frequently included in popular and trade publications.
Still not sure?
Ask a Librarian for assistance.