Some databases provide an option to narrow your result list to articles from peer-reviewed, scholarly, academic journals. When you select this option the database will filter out any books, articles published in popular or trade journals, audio and video files, etc. Even when you know a journal is peer-reviewed, it does not mean that every article in that journal is of a "scholarly" level and has gone through a peer review process.
Scholarly articles contain original research and are reviewed by a panel of experts before being published. However, book reviews or special feature sections, which are usually brief and offer opinions rather then original research and thus are not scholarly even though they may be published in a scholarly journal.
When we think of "finding an article" we often think of newspapers or magazines. But there are several kinds of articles your assignments might require:
News - From newspapers reporting daily events (New York Times)
Magazine - Often called "popular" articles, these are general or for a specific interest (Time, Discover)
Trade - By and for specific industries (Advertising Age)
Scholarly - Reporting research, written by and for scholars and researchers (American Journal of Psychology)
See the chart below for more information on how to tell if an article is scholarly or popular.
|Scholarly Articles||Popular Articles|
|Authorship||Scholars/experts in a field. Authors are always named and their institutional affiliation is given.||Staff writers or journalists.|
|Publisher||University presses, professional associations, research organizations.||For profit corporations.|
|Review||Peer review process by other experts in the field of study.||Fact-checker and/or editor.|
|Audience||Researchers, scholars, other experts.||General public.|
|Content/Length||Usually longer, focusing on a research study, or a review of research literature in a field.||Often shorter, with a more general focus.|
|Language||Technical, discipline specific terminology.||Written for a general reader with easier vocabulary.|
|Sources||Cited in a bibliography adhering to a specific citation style (MLA, APA, etc.)||Usually not cited, and when they are, are not generally standardized.|
|Structure||Usually includes: abstract, literature review, methodology, results, conclusion, and bibliography.||Specific formats are not followed.|