How do I find scholarly articles?

Q: How do I find scholarly articles?


A: By appropriately  limiting your database searches. In HOLMES and other databases you can limit your search results to academic journals and “peer reviewed” articles (also known as “refereed”).


However, when you do a search you usually still end up with letters to the editor, shorter news articles, and book reviews mixed in with longer, research-oriented articles. You can use such limitation features or sort options, but examine the citations in your results list carefully and look for the following characteristics to help sort out what’s truly of a scholarly nature:

  • Note the title of the journal or source cited . Often so-called scholarly publications begin with Journal of… or have the words Review or Quarterly in them.
  • Length of the article is often a tip off something is more research-oriented. Think about it… what’s likely to do a better job addressing a topic? A one page article or a ten page article? Longer articles usually are an indication of a more indepth treatment of  the subject.
  • See if the author is affiliated with a university or other research institution. With scholarly articles, the name of an institution of higher learning often follows the author’s name either on the first page or the last pageof the article.
  • Does the description of the article indicate the appearance of charts and graphs? Usually such embellishments accompany scholarly research.
  • The ultimate criterion to look for is the inclusion of a bibliography or references at the end of work. Longer usually equals more scholarly.

The last point is what makes an article truly scholarly in that the author carefully points to other sources to show what he based his conclusions on. If the full text is available, display it and scroll directly to the last page to see if there is a listing of “Works Cited” or “References”.

For more help with locating scholarly or full text articles, contact us in person at the main desk in the library or Ask A Librarian from a distance.