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What Kind of Article Do I Need?: Different Types of Articles

Photo Credit: AJ CannCreative Commons license

Selecting Peer-Reviewed Resources

In most databases, there is a peer-reviewed box you can check to limit your results accordingly.

By clicking on the Peer Reviewed box in a database, you will only get peer-reviewed journal results.

Figure 1: Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) box in Academic Search Ultimate

Peer-Reviewed Resources

What Are Peer-Reviewed Articles?

Peer-reviewed articles are published in scholarly journals that use the peer-review process to select articles for publication.  An article must go through a rigorous review process by experts in the field before it can be published in a peer-reviewed journal.

In the peer-review process, an article written by an expert in a particular field of study is submitted to a scholarly journal on that academic subject.  The article is then reviewed by a panel of individuals who are also experts in that academic subject; they are the scholarly peers of the person who wrote the article. The panel members use a strict set of standards to determine the quality of the article, and ultimately decide if the article will be published in that journal. This review adds an element of authority and validity to the article due to the confirmation from other experts within that field.

You will likely hear the terms peer-reviewed, scholarly journal and academic journal used to describe peer-reviewed resources. See this guide for more information about how to identify peer-reviewed, or scholarly, articles.

 It is important to note that not all individual items in a peer-reviewed journal are necessarily peer-reviewed. For example, an editorial piece, a book review, or a letter to the editor(s) may not have been peer-reviewed. A peer-reviewed article will usually be lengthy, based on a research study, and contain a reference list at the end.

How to Find Peer-Reviewed Resources

Resources That Are Not Peer-Reviewed

Some examples of publications that are NOT peer-reviewed include:

  • Professional Journals
  • Trade Publication
  • Popular Magazines
  • Newspapers

What is a Professional Journal?

"A professional journal or professional magazine is a collection of articles and images about diverse topics of applied science and professional news items. Usually these articles are written by journalists or scholars and are geared toward a public interested in science in general or in a specific field of applied science." (Source: University of Twente Library)

Professional journals may cover very "serious" material, but to find consistent scholarly information you should use the scientific/scholarly/academic journals as opposed to professional journals.

What is a Trade Publication?

“A trade publication is a term for a specific kind of publication -- usually a magazine -- that is geared to people who work in a specific business.” (Source: About.com Media Careers)

Trade publications will often be similar to a popular magazine (e.g. People magazine), with shorter articles and advertisements, but what is different is that they cater to a specific business or industry.

What is a Popular Magazine?

“Popular magazines are those types of magazines that target the general audience with current stories and information." (Source: Ask.com)

Popular magazines are not peer-reviewed and usually contain short articles and many ads and graphics. Authors don’t necessarily have credentials in the topic and articles generally don’t have a reference list.