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Scholarly and Peer Reviewed Journals

Characteristics of Scholarly Journals

Sharing scientific theory, methodologies and research findings, or news and advancements in a given subject.

Scholars and researchers who have a working knowledge of the subject matter and have an interest in ongoing education and keeping up to date with the latest research advancements.

Researchers, professors, scholars and others who have the education and experience to be considered credible experts in the journal's subject area.

Scholarly articles begin with an abstract and close with a complete list of references. The body of the article is often arranged in sections like "Introduction," "Methodology," "Discussion," and "Conclusion." The average article probably ranges between 3-15 pages.

Long, specific article titles, visuals like charts and graphs instead of decorative illustrations and photographs, and an absence of advertisements are other common indicators that you're looking at a scholarly article.

Research papers submitted to scholarly journals are held to a high standard of quality. They are expected to be clearly written without bias, adhere to rules of style and citation, and offer original analysis and conclusions drawn from sound research design and credible sources.

At minimum, this quality check is conducted by the editorial board of the scholarly publication. Many scholarly journals, however, require a more rigorous process called peer review, calling on two or more subject experts to evaluate for novelty, accuracy and value to the relevant field of study.

The extensive nature of this third-party verification helps us understand why peer reviewed scholarly journals are the most favored source material in academia and scientific research.

Journal of the American Chemical Society, Cell, New England Journal of Medicine, Nature, PLoS One

"What Is an Abstract?"

An abstract is a "brief, objective representation of the essential content of a book, article, [...] presenting the main points in the same order as the original but having no independent literary value.

A well-prepared abstract enables the reader to 1) quickly identify the basic content of the document, 2) determine its relevance to their interests, and 3) decide whether it is worth their time to read the entire document."


Reitz, J.M. (2019). Abstract. In Online Dictionary for Library and Information Science.

Sample Scholarly Article

Below you will find a few selected pages of an article from the scholarly journal Zoological Letters. Flip through these sample pages to review common structural elements:

  • Titles tend to be long and very specific, and it's common to see more than just one or two authors listed
  • An abstract can be found under the title, summarizing the article in a few sentences
  • The body of the article is often structured in sections like Introduction/Background, Methods, Discussion, Conclusion
  • Most visuals have a purpose, like charts, graphs and other statistical representations
  • A scholarly article always concludes with a References list
The first page of a scholarly article, depicting an abstract and introdcution section
The Discussion section of the scholarly article
The Conclusion section of the scholarly article
The last page of the scholarly article, listing citations in the References list