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Journal Article Basics

Get answers to your questions about scholarly journal articles.

What is a scholarly article?

Scholarly journal articles (or essays) are written for other experts and scholars in order to share research findings and ideas about a very specific topic. Typically, a researcher's goal is to have their article accepted for publication in a reputable journal within their field of study. 

Why use scholarly articles?

Man looking at books on a shelf.

Articles in scholarly journals are valued for several reasons. Most importantly, you should use scholarly sources because they are:

    Journal articles are written by experts and typically go through a stringent publication or review process, which helps to insure a high level of accuracy.

    Journal articles often contain the first reports of new research or ideas.

    Some journal articles include literature reviews, which are summaries of multiple research studies done in the past on particular subjects. This can provide you with a great introduction or overview of a topic.

Where do I find scholarly articles?

Libraries provide access to scholarly journal articles. You will typically start your search for articles by using a library database or a tool that searches multiple library databases all at once. For more information about finding articles, use the tips and tools provided on the Find Articles page.

Librarians Save Time!

  • A librarian can help guide your search and save you a lot of time and frustration by recommending the best places to search for articles and other types of sources. Contact a librarian at the very beginning - BEFORE you waste hours trying to figure out the best place to start your research.

Internet vs. Databases: Where do I start?

This video from UNC Libraries does a great job of explaining the differences between starting your research on the Internet and starting with library databases.