Answered By: Josh Waltman
Last Updated: Jun 29, 2020     Views: 5630

Scholarly/peer reviewed journals are publications that can be subscribed to just like you can subscribe to “popular” magazines like “Sports Illustrated,” “Time Magazine,” and “People.” However, “scholarly/peer reviewed” journals are published not for the general public, but for people who are researchers and professionals in their field. The articles they contain use “technical” language understood by scholars in that field and often report on recent research studies that have been done in that field. These kind of publications are the best place to find up to date research and developments in your field of study.

“Peer reviewed” means that the articles in these journals have gone through a review process by people who are experts in whatever field of study the journal specializes in. Before an article is accepted for publication in the journal, it has to be approved by these experts. Some items found in peer reviewed journals are not peer reviewed. Items like letters to and from the editor, book reviews, and other opinion pieces are not peer reviewed articles.

Some scholarly journals do not have a peer review process for the articles they contain. This is often the case with religion journals. But as long as non-peer reviewed articles cite their sources and/or are written by someone who is a scholar in the field, they can usually be cited in your research.

For additional information about scholarly/peer-reviewed journals, the JFL has created a short video tutorial. Click here to view:

Scholarly/peer reviewed articles usually:

  • Begin with an abstract (a paragraph that gives a synopsis of the article). If the article is describing a research study, the abstract will usually state that.
  • Have a lengthy reference list or footnotes citing sources used by the author(s).
  • Will often be written by someone who is affiliated with a scholarly institution such as a university or by someone who has a degree in or is highly respected in the field he/she is writing about.

If the article is describing a research study it will:

  • Often contain charts and graphs illustrating the research.
  • Contain numerical data showing statistical methods used in the research.
  • Have sections describing the research. The sections will have headings such as “Introduction”, “Method”, “Results”, “Discussion”, and “Conclusion”.

You can use our library databases to find scholarly/peer reviewed journal articles. Most of our databases have a box (limiter) you can select so that every item you find comes from a scholarly/peer reviewed journal.

If you have any additional questions, feel free to reach out to us at (434) 592-3362 or at