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Identifying Peer-Reviewed, Scholarly, Academic Sources: Get Started

How to Identify Peer-Reviewed, and Scholarly Sources

Understand & Identify Peer-Reviewed Articles in 5 Minutes

Google Scholar

Google Scholar is an online website where you can search for credible, scholarly articles. Similar to searching a database, you will need to use the main keywords from your topic when using this resource. Also, not all information may be free and/or available in full-text format.

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What does Scholarly, Peer Reviewed, or Academic mean?

When conducting research, professors may use many of the terms below interchangeably when asking you to find articles for your assignments.

A Peer-Reviewed, Scholarly, or Academic Journal is a publication that is published periodically (weekly, monthly, annually, etc.) and contains original research by scholars, professors, or experts.

They differ from magazines and newspapers in a variety of ways:

Popular Articles

Scholarly Articles

Written by:

Journalist or layperson. Sometimes written anonymously.

Covered by an expert in the field (scientist, researcher, professor, etc.). The author is identified.


Few or no references or notes

Includes notes and/or a bibliography


A corporation

An academic institution, research organization, or professional association

Writing Style

Written for the average reader

Written for experts and scholars


Reviewed by magazine employees

Editorial board of outside scholars reviews the article before it gets published


Current events and general interest

Research topics


Usually weekly or monthly

Usually quarterly, monthly, or annually


*Brief articles

*Many advertisements

*Many illustrations in color

*Many photographs

*Few charts, graphs, tables, and  diagrams

*Articles aren't summarized

*Long articles

*Few advertisements, if any

*Most illustrations in black and white

*Minimal photographs

*Many charts, graphs, tables, and diagrams

*Articles often summarized; this summary is called an ABSTRACT

Where to buy

An individual issue may be purchased at a bookstore or supermarket at a nominal cost

Requires a subscription or membership in a professional association. Subscriptions can be expensive, often hundreds of dollars.