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Scholary vs. Popular Sources: Introduction

Journals and their articles

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Scholarly journal articles are articles that are written by experts in a given field and undergo a peer-review process.  For example, a group of physicians may conduct research and write up their findings in a paper which is then submitted to a medical journal for publication.  The editors of the medical journal will send that article to other physicians (peers of the authors) who will use their own medical expertise to review the article.  The article may be accepted, accepted with revisions, or rejected.  In this way, the article goes through a rigorous editorial process before publication and, if published, is considered reliable, authoritative and scholarly.


  • Scientific articles follow a specific format:
    • Title page
    • Abstract
    • Introduction/thesis statement
    • Literature review
    • Method
    • Results
    • Discussion/Conclusion
    • References
  • Many scholarly articles also adopt a simpler format:
    • Introduction
    • Method
    • Results
    • Discussion


Scholarly, or academic journals contain peer-reviewed/refereed articles, as well as commentaries, news bulletins, announcements and reports that have not undergone the peer-review process.  Therefore, a scholarly or academic journal may include items that are not refereed or peer-reviewed.

Keep in mind...

  • Peer-reviewed articles are written by experts, for experts.  Because they are not intended for a general audience, these articles may contain vocabulary that is specific to a given field, like medical terminology or legalese.
  • Scholary journal articles are often based on very specific areas of research, and as such, are not the best place to find overviews on a topic.
  • Scholarly journal articles tend to be expensive.  The best way to full-text access of these articles is to use the Ventura College databases.