Scholarly articles are written by researchers, professors, or students and are published in research or academic journals. Scholarly articles (also known as peer-reviewed or refereed articles) have the highest level of credibility because they have been put through a rigorous system of review as other experts in the author's field of research check the article for accuracy. Because scholarly articles represent high quality research and rigorous review, be sure to include them in your research. You will find a more extensive definition of refereed articles at What Is a Refereed/Peer-Reviewed Article.
Examples of scholarly journals include Communication Education, American Journal of Psychology, and Modern Fiction Studies.
The UMGC Library provides access to over 100 research databases containing tens of thousands of full-text scholarly and professional articles, as well as reports, statistics, case studies, book chapters and some complete books in a wide range of subject areas. Using library research databases will give you higher quality, more focused results than you will find by only going to a Web search engine such as Google and Yahoo.
In order to determine which database(s) to search decide from what perspective (e.g., business, political, cultural, social, historical, psychological, anthropological, educational, etc.) you want to approach your topic. It is better to examine your topic from more than one perspective in order to gain a well-rounded understanding of it. Then, look for a database that contains resources on your topic. Each database has a description of its coverage: subject areas, types of resources, and date range.
Different research databases have different ways of showing whether an article is scholarly.
Check the search options.
Some databases allow you to limit your search to scholarly and/or peer-reviewed:
Still not sure? Check Ulrichsweb.
If you find a journal article and you are not sure what type of publication it is from, you can check in Ulrichsweb Global Serials Directory (under "U" in the Databases by Title (A-Z). Ulrichsweb does not contain articles, but instead lists information about journals. Enter the exact title of a journal in the search box and hit enter.
In the results list, if a referee's-shirt icon appears next to the journal title, then it is refereed and scholarly. You can double-check by opening the record and look for the word Yes next to the heading Refereed.
Distinguishing among Scholarly, Popular, and Trade Journals offers more help understanding the differences between scholarly, popular, and trade journals.
You can begin evaluating an article--judging whether it will be useful in your research--by examining the article citation in the database.
In the database, when you are looking at the list of articles your search has retrieved, click on an article title to open a detailed record for that article. The detailed record will include information by which you can evaluate the article:
Here is an example from UMGC Library OneSearch using the search "literary criticism."
You will notice that the article was published in 2013 and is 18 pages long.
To ensure that the journal is peer-reviewed, you can look it up in Ulrichsweb Global Serials Directory. The result looks like this:
Some of the articles you find in library databases are available in full text and can be viewed online in HTML format or in Adobe Acrobat PDF format. The link to the full text will be included with the article citation:
The PDF format provides a copy of the full article as it appears in a print journal. Because it is an exact replication, you know that no text has been altered in the conversion process. To view an article, click on either the PDF or HTML link.
In cases where the full text is not immediately available, you may see the Find It button at the bottom of the article citation:
Make sure the "full text only" option on the search screen is *UNCHECKED* if you want to broaden your search and use Find It.
After clicking on Find It, you will be taken to an intermediary screen that will direct you to the full text if it is available in another database or from a publisher's Web site:
If the full text is not available you will be prompted to "Request it from DocumentExpress."
You then log on using your MyUMGC credentials.
The library will then locate the full text and e-mail it to you for free.
Do not depend on DocumentExpress if your paper is due very soon. On average, it takes 1-2 business days to fill article requests, but can take longer.
Once you obtain the actual text of the article, you will need to determine if the article is worth using in your research. As you read the article, ask yourself: