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W131: English Composition: Scholarly Journals

Scholarly Checklist

Here is a quick checklist of criteria to help you determine if a resource is scholarly:

  • Always list authors and author's affiliations.
  • Technical, specialized vocabulary.
  • Reports on experiments, studies or literature reviews.
  • Graphs, tables, data.
  • Always includes footnotes or citations.

Scholarly Journals


Scholarly journals generally have a sober, serious look. They often contain many graphs and charts but few glossy pages or exciting pictures. Scholarly journals always cite their sources in the form of footnotes or bibliographies. These bibliographies are generally lengthy and cite other scholarly writings.

Scholarly journal articles often have an abstract, a descriptive summary of the article contents, before the main text of the article.  Articles are written by a scholar in the field or by someone who has done research in the field. The affiliations of the authors are listed, usually at the bottom of the first page or at the end of the article--universities, research institutions, think tanks, and the like.

Scholarly journal articles are reviewed by other notable scholars before acceptance for publication.  Such reviewers are considered to be the writer's peers; hence, the term peer-reviewed journal.  Usually, a committee or jury does the reviewing; hence, the terms juried journal or referreed journal.

The language of scholarly journals is that of the discipline covered. It assumes some scholarly background on the part of the reader. The main purpose of a scholarly journal is to report on original research or experimentation in order to make such information available to the rest of the scholarly world. Many scholarly journals, though by no means all, are published by a specific professional organization or scholarly society.


American Economic ReviewReading Research Quarterly
JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical AssociationJournal of Marriage and the Family (published by the National Council on Family Relations)
Modern Fiction StudiesSex Roles: A Journal of Research

Research Minute Video

This video, from Cornell University, highlights what to look for in a scholarly journal article. Contact the LCCC Library staff for more help.