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Peer-Reviewed, Scholarly Journals: Home

A guide for identifying articles in scholarly journals designed and created by Clark Librarians

IRIS Tutorial: Scholarly Journals

screenshot of IRIS tutorial opening page: Scholarly Journals & Scholarly Articles

Peer-Reviewed (Refereed) Journals

Some scholarly journals require articles to be approved by a peer group of scholars and academics in the discipline. For example, biologists would review, or referee, articles written by biologists. These journals are called peer reviewed, or refereed, journals.

Not every article in a peer-reviewed journal is a peer-reviewed article. For example, an editor, rather than a group of peers, may make decisions about letters to the editor, book reviews, and news, and other types of non-research articles.

If you are unsure if an article is peer-reviewed, look for the words: submitted [date]; accepted [date], as shown in the illustration further down on this page.

Primary Sources

Some articles in scholarly research journals report the first results of original research. These articles are called primary research articles.

Common Characteristics of Scholarly (Research) Articles

Articles in scholarly journals may also be called research journals, peer reviewed journals, or refereed journals. These types of articles share many common features, including:

  • articles always provide the name of the author or multiple authors
  • author(s) always have academic credentials (e.g. biologist, chemist, anthropologist, lawyer)
  • articles often have a sober, serious look
  • articles may contain many graphs and charts; few glossy pages or color pictures
  • author(s) write in the language of the discipline (e.g. biology, chemistry, anthropology, law, etc.)
  • authors write for other scholars, and emerging scholars
  • authors always cite their sources in footnotes, bibliographies, notes, etc.
  • often (but not always) associated with universities or professional organizations.

Typical Sections of Peer-Reviewed Research Articles

Research articles in many disciplines are organized into standard sections. Although these sections may vary by discipline, common sections include:

  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Materials and Methods
  • Analysis
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • Reference

It's not hard to spot these sections; just look for bold headings in the article, as shown in these illustrations:

snapshot of the first page of a scholarly article showing the title, authors and academic credentials, and peer-review dates.

collage of the parts of a scholarly article showing the different sections.

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