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Scholarly Articles

This guide describes what scholarly articles are and provides advice on finding, reading, and evaluating them.

Peer reviewed articles have gone through a process where other researchers/experts in the same field of study reviewed the article before it was published. The reviewers look at things like how well the study was designed and implemented, how clearly the authors present their data, if the conclusions are supported by the evidence, and more. This is meant to increase the trust in published research. It's not always perfect, but it's the "gold standard" of publishing articles in many disciplines.

The process usually takes at least 3 months- sometimes a year or more, depending on the journal's publication cycle, the speediness of the reviewers, and the amount of revisions required before publication. Here's what the process looks like:

1. Researchers start with an idea, theory, and/or hypothesis

2. Researchers conduct a study or do research in some way and write up their findings

3. Researchers/authors submit a proposed article to a journal editor

4. The journal editor decides if the article fits with the journal's mission- tf yes, it gets sent to 3-5 other experts/researchers in the field (called "reviewers")

5. The editor reviews feedback from the reviewers and decides to accept, revise, or reject the article.

6. Usually the authors are sent the feedback and revision suggestions unless it is rejected after peer review

Checking for peer review

In library databases, use a "peer reviewed" or "refereed" filter during your search. In some databases, you can click on the journal name and it will say if it's peer reviewed or not.

If you're not sure about a publication, search the internet for the publication name. Often, Wikipedia will have the answer! You can also look at the journal's home page or in the "About" section to see. If they use peer review, they'll tell you about it.

Caution: Not every article in a peer reviewed journal is actually peer reviewed. Things like editorials, commentaries, book reviews, updates, etc. do not usually go through the peer review process.

Still unsure? Ask a librarian!

Examples of peer reviewed articles

Click on the article title to view through the SLCC Library system:

Kilgo, D. K., Mourao, R. R., & Sylvie, G. (2019). Martin to Brown: How time and platform impact coverage of the Black Lives Matter movement. Journalism Practice, 13(4), 413–430.

Lane, K., Williams, Y., Hunt, A. N., & Paulk, A. (2020). The Framing of Race: Trayvon Martin and the Black Lives Matter Movement. Journal of Black Studies, 51(8), 790–812.

Rosenberg, M., Ranapurwala, S. I., Townes, A., & Bengtson, A. M. (2017). Do black lives matter in public health research and training? PLoS ONE, 12(10), 1–12.

Image credit

Image used with permission from the UCSD Libraries.

License information

This module is licensed under a Creative Commons CC BY-NC-SA 4.0