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Middle Level / Secondary Education

Young Adult literature, curriculum materials, and citing sources for secondary education.

Library Research Guide

Characteristics of Scholarly Articles

In your research, you will find articles from many different sources. The sources might be scholarly (intended to be used by scholars in the field), or they might be popular (intended to be used by the general public). Here are some things you can look for to determine if your article is scholarly:

  1. Look at the title. The title is usually a brief summary of the article often with specific terminology related to that field.
  2. Look at the authors. Are the author’s credentials at the beginning of the article or somewhere easily found? This helps establish the author’s authority as an expert in that field.
  3. Look for an abstract. This is the summary of the article. It helps readers determine whether the article suits their research needs. Sometimes it will even be labeled “Abstract.”
  4. Look for charts, graphs, tables, or equations. These are often found in scholarly research. Pictures are rare.
  5. Look for references. You will find these scattered throughout the article as footnotes or endnotes at the end of an article. Authors will usually also include a full reference list at the end of the article. This is a good way to find additional articles on your topic.

The article title is generally at the top, followed by the authors and then the abstract, which contains a summary of the article.

The bodyof scholarly articles frequently contain tables that report the statistical analysis of variables measured in the study.

Located at the end of the article will be a references section contain citation information for articles mentioned.


Scholarly and Popular Sources

This video describes the differences between popular and scholarly sources. It was created by Carnegie Vincent Library at Lincoln Memorial University.