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Communication

Research Guide for Communication majors and students enrolled in Communication classes

Scholarly, Peer-Reviewed Articles

What are Scholarly, Peer-Reviewed Articles? 

You will often be asked to use scholarly, peer-reviewed, or academic articles in your research. These types of articles are written by professionals who are working in different fields, including many of the professors you are taking classes from at Fresno State. They often present original research or analysis and are reviewed by other professionals in the field ("peer review") before they are published in scholarly journals. You can find scholarly articles using the library's OneSearch tool or going into specific databases that the library subscribes to. You can also find these types of articles using Google Scholar.

The table below shows you how articles from scholarly journals compare to the popular magazine articles that you are probably more familiar with. 

Type of Source
Popular magazines
Scholarly Journals
Audience
General public; use language understood by the average reader For students, scholars, researchers; use specialized language of a discipline
Content
News items, feature stories, editorials and opinion pieces Original research, theory; may include an abstract
Appearance
Visual, lots of advertising, color, photos, short articles with no bibliographies or references Little or no advertising, lengthy articles, charts and tables, bibliographies & references
Authors
May or may not be named, frequently a staff writer, not a subject expert Authors are specialists, articles are signed, credentials such as degrees and university affiliation are given.
Purpose
News, general information or entertainment, opinion To disseminate research findings, publicize current topics in the field and professional issue

The Peer-Review Process

The video below is a great introduction to what makes scholarly, peer-reviewed articles unique and how you can identify them. 

Popular vs. Scholarly Articles

Type of Source
Popular magazines
Scholarly Journals
Audience
General public; use language understood by the average reader
For students, scholars, researchers; use specialized language of a discipline
Content
News items, feature stories, editorials and opinion pieces
Original research, theory; may include an abstract
Appearance
Visual, lots of advertising, color, photos, short articles with no bibliographies or references
Little or no advertising, lengthy articles, charts and tables, bibliographies & references
Authors
May or may not be named, frequently a staff writer, not a subject expert
Authors are specialists, articles are signed, credentials such as degrees and university affiliation are given.
Purpose
News, general information or entertainment, opinion
To disseminate research findings, publicize current topics in the field and professional issues

Evaluating Journal Articles

Peer-reviewed/ Scholarly articles have already been published, and have gone through a review and editing process (unlike web sites or popular articles). But it is still a good idea to evaluate them.


Source - Look for articles from scholarly journals, written by experts in the subject. There will be references that can lead you to additional books and articles on the topic. In some databases, you can limit your search by type of article -- a research article, an editorial, a review, or a clinical trial.

Length - The length of the article, noted in the citation, can be a good clue as to whether the article will be useful for research.

Authority - Use authoritative sources in your research. Use articles written by experts in the subject area, and who are affiliated with an academic institution.

Date – research in many subjects requires the most current information available. Is the article sufficiently up-to-date for your purpose?

Audience - For what type of reader is the author writing? If an article is written for other professionals, it will use terms and language special to the subject area.

Usefulness - Is the article relevant to your research topic?