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SWITCH Libraries' Information Literacy Tutorial: Unit 5
Finding Articles

This tutorial is for use by the community of library users within the SWITCH Library Consortium.

The Value of Scholarly Journal Articles

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What is a scholarly journal article?  Also known as peer reviewed or refereed, scholarly articles are written by experts in a particular field. Before an article is published in a scholarly journal, it is reviewed by other experts (peers). This ensures that a scholarly journal is publishing high quality information.

Characteristics of scholarly journal articles include:

  • always identify the author(s) and typically list the educational institution the author is affiliated with, as well as his/her credentials.
  • always provides references.
  • are typically written by professors, scientists, or professionals in a field.
  • is frequently based on or relates to a research study.
  • typically include an abstract that summarizes an article’s content.
  • almost never appear in newspapers or popular magazines.

Why use scholarly journal articles? These are credible and authoritative sources of information. Using scholarly articles in your writing shows that you understand the value of good evidence and that you know how and where to find it.

Where do you find scholarly journal articles? In your library's databases. Not every article published in a database will be scholarly, but most databases allow you to refine a search and limit to peer reviewed or scholarly journal articles. 

Good academic writing will include information gathered from scholarly journals as well as other credible sources of information.

Popular and Scholarly Sources

Why Use a Database?

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Searching a Database

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Understanding a Database Record

Test Your Knowledge

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Please review the information on this page before attempting the quiz. After completing the quiz, a score will be sent to your email address. Click here to take the Finding Articles Quiz.

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Questions? Please contact your home library and ask to speak with a librarian.


"Scholarly Journals" image by Thomasina Lovejoy

"Popular and Scholarly Sources", John M. Pfau Library:

Video icon attribution: Rob-nowman used according to Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License

"Why Use a Database" and "Searching a Database" based on Cardinal Stritch University's "Introduction to Databases" tutorial:

"Database Record", Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System, UWM Libraries: