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United States Women's History

About Scholarly Articles

What is a scholarly article?

The purpose of scholarship is to expand human knowledge.  Scholars conduct research in their fields in order to add to or clarify what is already known about a particular topic.  The purpose of scholarly articles report original qualitative or quantitative research, case studies, or in-depth analysis of a topic. They then publish their research findings in peer-reviewed journals.  

What is peer-review?

When Scholars submit their research articles to peer-reviewed journals, editors of the journals forward the articles to several "peers" (other scholars in the field) to review.  The peers look at what (the results), how (the research methods), and why (the topic) the scholar researched the topic in order to determine if the article should be added to the literature of knowledge in the field.  This process ensures that published research is accurate, valid, and reliable.

How can you tell if an article is scholarly?  Evaluate the following features of the article. If it meets ALL of these criteria then it is considered scholarly.

  1. Authors of scholarly articles are researchers, academics, and scholars within the field- their institutional affiliation is typically listed. 
  2. Publishers of peer-reviewed journals include universities, research institutes, scholarly presses and professional organizations. 
  3. Sources are always clearly listed in scholarly articles in the form of footnotes, endnotes, references, or bibliographies.  
  4. Language used in scholarly articles often includes vocabulary specific to the given field- the audience of these articles is other scholars and students so the writing will be at a high level.