Answered By: Harry L. Whitlock II
Last Updated: May 05, 2017     Views: 1366

Peer-reviewed or scholarly articles are usually lengthy and written in scholarly language by scholars and researchers. These articles are often peer-reviewed, which means that the information in the article was checked for accuracy and importance by a team of experts in the field before publication.

Scholarly articles often report on research. Research articles can be identified by their standard format, containing sections titled Methods, Results, Conclusions, and Bibliography. 

Be aware that scholarly journals sometimes contain non-scholarly content, such as book reviews or editorial opinions. While these articles can be useful they do not qualify as "scholarly" or "peer-reviewed".

If you are not sure whether an article is peer-reviewed, you can look up the journal in the Ulrich's Periodicals Directory to find out, or check the author guidelines on the journal's web site. You can also consult with a librarian or a faculty member.

Popular articles are the articles in magazines that you encounter in the grocery store or the dentist's office. The articles are written by journalists to inform and entertain. These are not considered scholarly. The articles frequently give short, easy-to-read overviews of the research articles published in scholarly journals.

A third type of journal article you might encounter is a trade journal article. These articles contain practical advice and information for workers within a specific occupation. For example, a professional pharmacist might read the trade journal Pharmacy Times to find out about new advances in child-proof lids, but she will turn to scholarly research articles to learn how a new drug performed in clinical trials.

The easiest way to find peer-reviewed articles is to use the "Articles search" on the UW Libraries main webpage. This search engine is the box with an orange border on the left-hand side of the page. 

  • enter search terms in the search or enter the title of a known article, then press "Enter"
  • after you get results click the "Limit to articles from scholarly publications, including peer review" checkbox in the left-hand column under "Refine your search."

This search engine will filter your search results and present a list of scholarly articles, many of which will be available online.

You may wish to look in specific databases for articles. Click on the orange/yellow icon in the upper-right corner of the "Articles search" box on the UW Libraries homepage. Click here to go that that page.

Most of our article databases allow you to limit results to scholarly, refereed, or peer-reviewed articles. For example, two multi-disciplinary databases:

If you have questions about identifying peer-reviewed articles in specific subject areas, consult with a reference librarian, in person, via email, IM, phone or asking another question here.

See this similar FAQ: How do I find online journal articles?

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