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Anthropology 280 Library Research

How to Recognize a Scholarly Article

Scholarly Articles

A scholarly article is subjected to a very different publication process in comparison to an article published in a popular journal, such as Newsweek, or Popular Science. If you look at a paper copy of a scholarly journal, there are a few things that you might notice.

Here are three things that are especially important when deciding if an article is scholarly: 

  • The author has heavily cited their sources; you will find a long list of "references," "works cited," or a "bibliography" following the article.
  • The article will generally be between 8-40 pages long. If you find a one- or two-page article, there's a good chance that it's a book review.
  • The author's name will be included. If you look up the author's name, you should be able to find more information about them and get an idea of whether or not they are experts in their field.

Other things to look for:

  • Scholarly articles often begin with an abstract or summary
  • The article will include a publication date.
  • The article will include a review of other literature that has already been published. Often this section of the article will be titled "Literature Review" or "Review of the Literature."
  • Scholarly articles usually don't include many photos or images other than images referred to in the text or tables and graphs depicting research results.
  • Scholarly articles contain in-depth research and substantive information (this is why they tend to be long)

What's Peer Review?

After being received by a journal editor, a scholarly article is submitted to researchers with some expertise in the field.  The researchers, referred to as "peer reviewers," will read the article and provide feedback to the editor regarding the merits of the article. The peer reviewers may recommend that additional research be conducted, or for the article to be revised. The peer reviewers may point out areas of error, and in some cases, may even suggest that the article not be published at all. Generally, the author will have the opportunity to revise the paper, correcting any ambiguous or misleading information. The peer review process is expected to improve the quality of the article and is really an opportunity for the author to receive feedback and suggestions from other researchers.

Useful Journals

There are several journals that publish studies in forensic anthropology. Here is a sample of some of these journals available at the WSU Libraries:

Remember, this isn't a complete list! Your professor can recommend other journals that might be useful, and you will find others as you do searches on your topic.

Getting Articles In Search It

screenshot of Search It filters with Peer Reviewed and WSU Online Resources highlightedAfter you do a search in Search It, you can use the facets on the left side of the screen to limit your search to articles.

  • For scholarly articles, click on "Peer-Reviewed Articles"
  • For Articles available online, use "WSU Online Resources"

You can use more than one facet at once.


Once you see an article that looks like it might be useful, click on the title to see more information. This should open up a record for the article.

Sample Search It article record

If you see "full text available," you know this is an article you can get online through WSU.

You can use the "Download PDF" link to get to the full text of the article. Not all articles in Search It have this link, but most do.

You can also get to the full text by using the links in the Access Options section of the record. You may see more than one link. If that happens, you should be able to use either one to get to the full article.


Finding Articles in Databases

Not all of the articles you have access to through WSU will shop up when you do a search in Search It. Databases might be more useful if you are specifically looking for articles. WSU has access to hundreds of databases, but here are a few recommendations for your Anthropology 203 research:


JSTOR is a very useful database that contains works from scholarly publications. If you want a scholarly article and want to be able to easily and quickly access the full text, try searching JSTOR. Remember, though, that the most current research (1, 3, or 5 years worth, depending on the journal) may not be available through JSTOR. 


Anthropology Plus

This is a database that includes anthropology and Archaeology research publications. Not everything is immediately available in full text, but muchof it is.


Academic Search Complete

Not everything in Academic Search Complete is available in full-text, but most of it is. This database covers publications from many fields of study, including Anthropology, Psychology, and the sciences. If you use Academic Search Complete, remember that it includes many popular sources like newspaper articles as well as scholarly sources.

Requesting Articles

If you find an article in a database or in Search It, but it isn't available online through the WSU Libraries, you can request the article and we will work to get it from another library for you.

Because article requests re usually filled by sending PDFs instead of by using the mail, they are usually filled much more quickly than requests for books.

Requesting articles is done by using your Illiad account. If you haven't used Illiad before, you will be asked to fill out some contact information the first time. After that, your information and preferences will be saved for you so that the next time you place a request it's much quicker and easier.

Details about how to request articles through Illiad can be found here:


And here is a video tutorial that walks you through requesting articles:

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