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Women's and Gender Studies 240: Introduction to Women's and Gender Studies

Supports the research needs of students in American Culture/Women's Studies 240: Introduction to Women's and Gender Studies

How can you tell if an article is scholarly?

There are several things you can look for to determine if the article you've found is scholarly:

  • Author: Is this author an expert on this topic? Do they have credentials (like a degree or a particular job) that lend authority to their views?
  • Source: What kind of publication is this? Is it an academic journal, a newspaper, or a website meant for the general public?
  • Evidence: Does the author include citations, statistics, facts, analysis, or other evidence to support their arguments? Can you trace that evidence back to its source?
  • Writing style: Does the author use specialized vocabulary? Does the article have sections like "literature review," "methodology," or "results"?

Many scholarly articles go through a process called "peer review" before they are published. When an author submits a draft of their work to a journal, the journal's editor sends it to reviewers. These reviewers will be experts in the same field as the author. The reviewers read the draft, evaluate its scholarly rigor, make comments on how the work can be improved, and make a recommendation to the editor about whether the article should be published. The editor will then ask the author to make revisions and to re-submit the article. Only after this process is complete will the article be published.

Most of the time, you can't tell if an article has been peer reviewed just by looking at it. In order to determine if the article was peer reviewed, use your favorite search engine to find the journal's homepage. Then look for a peer review policy on their website.

Using Databases to Find Scholarly Articles

In order to find scholarly articles, you must use a database. Databases are typically specialized for a particular kind of result (e.g., newspaper articles, images, scholarly journal articles, etc.) or focus on a particular subject area (e.g., psychology, communication studies, etc.).

Below you'll find a list of a few databases that might be helpful for a range of topics in this class. You can browse a complete list of all the databases the library provides organized by subject area.