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3.4 Identifying Scholarly and Peer Reviewed Journals

What is a scholarly journal?

Scholarly journals are produced for scholars and researchers to report on research and scholarship in their chosen field of study. Articles include details about the author, including their name and their credentials.

Scholarly publications can be identified by the:

Criteria Scholarly
Writing style formal, technical language relevant to the field of research
Use of Images diagrams and charts relevant to the research but little other illustration or advertising
Length usually at least ten pages
Referencing includes sources of information usually as references and footnotes
Advertising only it is relevant to the field of study


Scholarly articles tend to have a formal format, which includes an abstract, introduction and statement of the problem or hypothesis, literature review, methodology, data collection, analysis, conclusions and recommendations and a bibliography or reference list.

Many, although not all, scholarly journals are also peer reviewed before publication.

What is a peer reviewed journal?

Peer reviewed journals, also known as refereed journals, are scholarly journals that submit articles to a peer review process before publication. Many scholarly journals are peer reviewed.

The purpose of peer review is to ensure that articles are critically assessed for quality and accuracy of information by other scholars in the author's field or specialty before they are accepted for publication.

Peer review can occur in a number of ways:

  • Editorial review - reviewers are on the journal's editorial board or have some stake in the development of the journal.
  • Blind review - the author of the article does not know reviewers
  • Double-blind review - the author of the article does not know reviewers and reviewers do not know the author.
  • External review - reviewer not associated with the editorial board of the journal.


All peer reviewed journals are types of scholarly journals.


Why use scholarly or peer reviewed journals?

There are a number of reasons to use articles from scholarly or peer reveiwed journals.

  1. It is a requirement of the assessment to use scholarly or peer reviewed sources
  2. It provides access to high quality information:
  • Authors are scholars or researchers
  • Publication is aimed at an audience of scholars or researchers in the field
  • Publishing results of research is the purpose of publication rather than commercial interests
  • Little advertising
  • Provides access to sources of information using references and citations
  • Formal language and format, including hypothesis, research methodology and conclusions


How do I locate scholarly and peer reviewed journals?

Some databases such as Proquest allow searching by type of source, such as scholarly publications.

For most databases, however, this option is not available, so you will need to investigate further. There are a number of ways to check to see if a journal title is peer reviewed.

  • Use online databases such as Proquest that allow you to limit to peer-reviewed journals.
  • Use databases that only contain scholarly sources. These include Wiley Interscience, Project Muse, Kluwer Online, SpringerLink and Science Direct.
  • Check Ulrichs Periodical Directory.
  • On journal webpages, check the "Instructions for Authors" pages to see if you can find terms such as peer reviewed or refereed. Articles may also be peer-reviewed if the author is told to submit multiple copies of the same article because the editor may want extra copies to send to reviewers.
  • For print journals, check the front of the journal to see if there is an editorial board for the journal and if there are instructions for authors.


Learn more about checking for peer reviewed sources

The elements of a scholarly journal article

Find whether a journal is peer-reviewed or academic

Image of a blackboard with set homework: Find a peer-reviewed article

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