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Center for Leadership & Social Change

This guide was created to support the academic work and research stemming from the FSU Center for Leadership & Social Change.

Scholarly vs. Non-Scholarly

Articles are excellent for finding:

  1. Evidence-based research
  2. Literature reviews or sources to write a literature review
  3. Critical analyses of research, literature or major issues
  4. Scholarly perspectives about issues on a specific topic or subject
  5. Information on current events
  6. Opinion pieces

Articles can either be scholarly or non-scholarly in nature.

Articles in scholarly journals generally have been reviewed by an editorial board, have gone through some type of peer-review process, and are the in-depth, primary account of original findings written by the researcher(s) in their field of academic interest.  Many but not all professional journals are peer-reviewed.

Articles in popular magazines, newspapers and trade publications on the other hand are written from a non-scholarly perspective. They are generally not peer-reviewed, favor a much more informal writing style, and often have no, or only very brief, bibliographies. Non-Scholarly articles can be helpful but it just depends on what your research needs are.

Is it scholarly?

Scholarly articles can generally be identified by several features:

  1. Content: Is the topic of the article academic?
  2. Audience: Is the article written for a reader who is knowledgable about the topic?
  3. Language: Does the author use higher level language and discipline-specific terminology?
  4. Intent: Is the purpose of the article to report findings of a research project, present a case study, make an argument about a topic based on supporting evidence or research, etc?
  5. Authorship: Are the qualifications of the author listed?  For scholarly articles look for advanced degree(s) as well as experience writing and/or researching on the topic.
  6. Peer-review: Is the article peer-reviewed or refereed?  This means material is evaluated by experts and only published if it meets the discipline's standards.
  7. References: Does the author support his or her findings with references to other scholarly research in footnotes, endnotes or a bibliography at the end? 

(This list was inspired by the various lists available on library websites, particularly that of Judith Downie at California State University San Marcos)

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