Skip to Main Content

PSYC 100, 220: Costa, P.: What is a scholarly journal article?

What is a scholarly article?

Your instructor says that you need at least two academic (scholarly) articles. Hmmm...

What is an academic or scholarly article?

Scholarly/academic articles often appear in journals that are dedicated to a specific area of study, in this case, psychology.  Some examples are:  American Psychologist, Behavioral Neuroscience, and Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. At TCC, all of our psychology journals are accessed through electronic databases, the most important of which is PsycArticles

A scholarly or academic article is one written by an author considered to be an expert in their field. Often the author is a researcher and the article describes the outcomes of their research.  Many articles are written by groups of researchers and they are affiliated with a university or other institution. Authors are not paid by the journals where their articles appear.  Articles are sometimes 'peer-reviewed' by a panel of other experts in the field prior to acceptance and publication. 

How do you know it's scholarly?

How Do You Know if It's Scholarly?

Scholarly Works Often Have
  • Long, descriptive titles describing a narrow area of study: "Alcohol abuse in Russian delinquent adolescents: Associations with comorbid psychopathology, personality and parenting";
  • Many authors - usually more than 2;
  • Long length - 8 or more pages is common, sometimes more than 20;
  • Many citations within the text and in a list at the end of the article;
  • A lengthy abstract within the body of the article. It is a paragraph or more, headed with "Abstract", describing the article, often written by the author(s).

What is a scholarly journal article? (UW-Bothell video)

Video: The anatomy of a scholarly article

Source: "Anatomy of a scholarly article" by Amanda Dinscore, Standard YouTube License

Scholarly vs. popular sources

So what is the difference between scholarly vs. popular sources?

Differences between scholarly vs. popular sources
  Scholarly Journals Popular Magazines
Scholarly or popular? Scholarly. Also known as academic, peer-reviewed, refereed Popular
At a glance These journal articles often feature the results of scientific or academic research. They are written for scholars and provide in-depth analysis of a specific area of study. Good for summarizing information on a topic for the general public. They often provide some background, briefly summarize research findings, and provide some lay analysis of a topic, often with the intent to show the public how it applies to their lives.
Examples example of a scholarly journal example of a magazine
Appearance Often have a sober, serious look. May contain graphs and charts, but few glossy pages or photographs. Use scholarly language with vocabulary specific to their field. Generally glossy with attractive color photographs and other images
Purpose Written for researchers, scholars and professionals interested in the same field of study. Written for the general public,with the intent to inform, but also to entertain
Authority Written by experts in the field, often reporting the results and conclusions of research they conducted. There is frequently more than one author. Written by magazine staff or freelance writers
Accountability Articles are evaluated by peer-reviewers, or referees who are experts in the field; edited for accuracy, content, format, and style Articles are evaluated by editorial staff, not experts in the field; edited for format and style
Citations/references Contains footnotes/lengthy citations at the end of the work, citing the works of others used by the author. Citations are often absent or if present, informally referenced in the body of the text
Frequency May be published monthly, quartely, or yearly Usually published weekly or monthly
Potential uses Statistical information; research findings to 'prove' or 'disprove' a notion; cause and effect analysis; deep understanding of a narrow aspect of your topic Gain a basic understanding of a current topic, as it is happening; understand how it applies to people directly; gain an understanding of the popular perception of a topic.


CC BY SA license

Except where otherwise noted, the content in these guides by Tacoma Community College Library is licensed under CC BY SA 4.0.
This openly licensed content allows others to cite, share, or modify this content, with credit to TCC Library. When reusing or adapting this content, include this statement in the new document: This content was originally created by Tacoma Community College Library and shared with a CC BY SA 4.0 license.

Tacoma Community College Library - Building 7, 6501 South 19th Street, Tacoma, WA 98466 - P. 253.566.5087

Instagram logo

Visit us on Instagram!