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WR100 Help Guide: Scholarly (Peer-Reviewed) Journal Articles

Use this guide to help you with your Effective Writing assignments from off-campus.

What is "Peer-Reviewed"?

When an article has been "peer reviewed," that means that experts in a field, such as professors, researchers, and doctors, reviewed a draft of the article and recommended that the scholarly journal accept it for publication.

Scholarly Article - Annotated


Collage of scholarly journal covers

Scholarly journal articles are intended to be read by professionals in the field who have an advanced knowledge of the subject matter and who are looking to further their own research.

Authors will usually be affiliated with a research institution, such as a university. Their academic credentials are usually included (PhD, MD, etc.).

Layout and Organization will typically be plain and businesslike. In the sciences and social sciences, articles usually begin with an Abstract (a brief summary of the entire article), followed by sections such as Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion, and Conclusion. You will sometimes see detailed charts and graphs depicting data from the research. Scholarly articles are typically much longer than popular articles, since readers want to know all of the technical details and in-depth analysis.

Vocabulary will be specialized, and the author will not pause to explain technical concepts in layman's terms. You might see mathematical formulas with Greek symbols within the sentences of the paper.

Tone will be objective and unbiased. The author will not usually make jokes or use slang.

References will be cited in detail in a section at the end of the paper. You will also see in-text citations or footnotes throughout the article.

Popular Sources (NOT Peer-Reviewed)

New York Times Cover     Wikipedia logo





Popular magazine covers


"Popular sources" are intended to be read by a general audience who might have a casual interest in the subject, but who are not experts. Popular sources include magazines, newspapers, websites, and blogs, among other things.

If you see the "periodical" icon next to a search result in OneSearch or another database, then it is usually a popular source.

Authors of popular sources, including journalists, are not academic experts looking to share their research. Sometimes an author might not even be listed.

Layout and organization of popular sources is usually intended to be eye-catching and draw in a reader. You might see ads or cartoons. Popular sources do not usually have sections with formal headings, such as Abstract, Methods, Results, etc.

Vocabulary will be more general, and potentially complicated terms will be defined for a reader.

Tone is often more casual and engaging. Authors might make jokes or use slang, and the perspective might not be objective. 

References will not be cited in a formal style at the end of the article.