How do you know you have found a scholarly article?
When searching, you may find articles from peer-reviewed journals like abstracts, summaries, opinion pieces, book reviews that are not what your instructor requires.
It can take several months to a year for a journal article to be published; this timeline provides a look at the process. Remember that when selecting a topic that requires scholarly journal articles.
Here are things to look for when searching for scholarly articles:
Title and Author:
- The person(s) who wrote the article and their credentials.
- Use this information to decide if the author(s) is qualified to write about this topic.
- You can also see what perspective the author is writing from (nursing, science, psychology).
- Summary of the entire article.
- Use this information to decide if this article is relevant to your topic.
- In library databases, keywords or subject hyperlinks are there to help you find similar articles within that database.
- **An abstract is not a journal article. Articles that are only a few paragraphs long are most likely abstract or an article that is news, opinion or review.
- The bulk of the article. The body of the article lets you know several things:
- The research question the author(s) is asking.
- The benefits or findings this research is hoping to achieve
- The sources the author used when writing the article including:
- Prior experience or experiments.
- Literature review (reading other authors’ work on the topic).
- Journal articles can be as short as 3 pages to over 20 pages long, so start your research early!
- Many articles, especially scientific or medical articles, may include a research component.
- The author(s) must list the complete methodology or all steps used to conduct this research.
- This is important because others should be able to review or recreate the author(s) findings to verify the science is valid.
- All data should be included in the research. The 5 W’s and How are answered here.
- Use articles published within the last 3-5 years when conducting medical or scientific research. This ensures you are not looking at outdated information.
- Articles with invalid information are retracted from journals, but may resurface on websites.
- These are the citations for all materials the author(s) used to write the paper.
- Think of it like the Reference or Works Cited page at the end of a research paper.
- You may wish to use these references to find other articles to continue your research.