An important part of research in college is becoming familiar with the scholarly literature in your field. But what is the difference between scholarly articles and everything else? In order to understand the distinction, it's good to consider where they are published as well as the author, the editor, and the audience:
You probably have a pretty good idea what a magazine or newspaper article article looks like, but what should you look for when you want to know you're looking at a scholarly article? In addition to these slides:
- Scholarly articles only appear in scholarly journals. So one criterion is to look at the title of the publication that published the article and ask yourself "does that sound journal-y?" (as opposed to newspaper-y or magazine-y). It's just one thing to look at, and it sounds silly, but it's a question worth asking.
- (This is really mean, but generally speaking...) Scholarly journals and scholarly articles are pretty boring-looking. You won't see too much in the way of art or photos. Because scholarly articles are for scholars and by scholars, there isn't much need to draw a potential reader's attention to them with flashy artwork.
- Especially in the sciences and the social sciences, articles will be divided up into certain sections: Introduction, Methods/Methodology, Results, Discussion, Conclusion.
- In the humanities (history, literature, philosophy, etc.), scholarly articles often look more like a long essay.
- If you aren't sure you're looking at a scholarly article or not, ask a librarian!