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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:

  • TRUSTWORTHY and CREDIBLE
    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.

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

  • FULL of INFORMATION
    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.