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Journal Article Basics

Get answers to your questions about scholarly journal articles.

How do I know it's scholarly?

This video shows you a few things you can look for to help you determine whether or not an article may be considered scholarly.


There are many clues to help you determine whether or not an article is scholarly. However, even when you know the clues, it can still be hard to be absolutely sure, as not all scholarly articles will include all of the characteristics listed below. In addition, different disciplines (sciences, arts, etc.) may use very different formatting for scholarly articles published in their field.

Always ask a librarian or your instructor if you need help!

General Characteristics of Scholarly Articles

  • also called academic articles, research articles, peer-reviewed articles
  • tend to have lengthy articles (5-50 pages)
  • cover a single, very specific aspect of a subject area
  • include in-text citations and either footnotes or a lengthy list of references (works cited) 
  • are written for an academic or scholarly audience
  • use technical or specialized vocabulary
  • are written by academics, specialists, or researchers in the field
  • the author's name and academic credentials are usually included
  • include only charts, tables, or photographs that clarify the research
  • include very little or no advertising
  • are published between 2-12 times per year, most often quarterly