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Library 101: Journal Articles

Finding Scholarly Articles

What is Peer Reviewed?

Image of a historical looking man writing on a modern computer

Often, a Professor will specify that articles need to be peer-reviewed, scholarly or refereed (they all mean the same thing). A peer-review process means that other experts in the field reviewed the article's content prior to publication and determined it was scholarly.

Some common components of a peer reviewed article are:

  1. It will have an abstract - a brief paragraph that describes the content of the article. TIP: If you cannot understand the abstract, you definitely won't be able to understand the article!
  2. It will have a bibliography, footnotes or both - sources will be clear.
  3. It will have authority - the author's credentials / affiliation will be clearly stated.
  4. It will be technical and contain specific terminology relative to the topic and/or graphs, charts or complex mathematical equations or formulas.
  5. It will be likely be substantially longer than a magazine article.

Right away this tells you NOT to search in popular magazines, newspapers, trade journals and Google.

Yes, there is Google Scholar, but often times once an article is finally located there is a fee to obtain it. Your best bet is to check the Molloy databases, where access to everything is FREE.

How do I find Peer-Reviewed Articles?

These types of articles are ONLY found within Scholarly Journals. The best way to access scholarly journals is through our databases or via Search Everything; these can be filtered to display only articles that are peer reviewed. Just look for a box where you can check 'peer reviewed' and you're good to go. 


How To Analyze Online Journal Articles

Tips to ensure success...

  • Is the article from a subject specific database?
  • Have you narrowed to peer reviewed, as necessary?
  • Review the article citation or abstract for basic information:
    • Author, Source publication, length, document type, subject terms.
    • Does this meet your needs?
  •  Review the Article Content
    • Is the article thoughtfully researched and presented, based on factual information?
    • Is the topic coverage marginal or extensive?
    • Is the article clearly organized, with subheadings and distinct parts like abstracts, overviews, analyses, introductions and conclusions?
    • Are the facts clearly presented?
    • Is material repeated?
    • Is the text written in lay terms, or the language of your discipline?
    • Is the article at an appropriate level—too technical, too easy
    • Does the article pose alternatives, or reach definitive conclusions?
    • Does the article include bibliographies, footnotes, citations?
    • Does the article refer to other experts and other studies?
    • Is the material primary or secondary in nature? 
    • Does the work add new insight on the topic or rehash older material?
    • Is the article dated? Current? Historical?
    • What is the relationship between the article title and the article text?
    • How relevant is the article to your topic: how many times is your topic mentioned in the text? In the title? In the subject line?
    • Is there an evident bias? Is the language inflammatory or impartial? Is the information fact, opinion or propaganda?
    • How long is the article? Is the length suitable to your needs—or is it too long or too short?           
  • What do you know about the publication’s reputation?
    • Has the publication received industry awards?
    • Do other authors and researchers frequently cite the publication?
    • How does the publication compare to the competition?
    • Is the publication mentioned as a key source for your discipline in reference materials?



Click on the slide, do not use the arrows at the bottom!

Understanding the Different Types of Periodicals

Is it a Journal? Is it a Magazine?

Scholarly, Trade and Popular articles

Reading an Article Critically for Additional Sources