Skip to main content

Intersections of Race, Class, Gender and Sexuality: CES 300: Locating Secondary Scholarly Sources

Is my article scholarly?

Can't tell whether a journal is scholarly or popular? Try searching for your journal in Ulrichsweb, a database of publisher information on over 300,000 titles.

Just type in the title of the journal in the "Quick search" box, and limit to "title (exact)" or "title (keyword)". Select the correct journal when the results appear. 

If the journal is scholarly, the Document type field will read: "Journal; Academic/Scholarly". If the journal is peer-reviewed, you will see a "Refereed" field which will read "Yes."

You can also find a direct link to the Ulrichsweb record for a journal in Search it, as seen below:

Why Use Scholarly Articles?

Research on most any topic can be enriched by reading and investigating the scholarly literature. You have access to a rich body of academic writing, including peer-reviewed articles, through the library databases.

Scholarly articles generally offer and in-depth study of a narrow area of research. Even if you cannot find the "perfect" article that relates to your topic, research on a related area is still valuable and can be incorporated into your own investigation.

Subject Databases

Scholarly or Popular journals - what's the difference?

A scholarly journal 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 will notice right off the bat:

  • There are few, if any, photos or images other than tables and graphs depicting research results
  • The article employs language, or jargon, specific to the discipline
  • The author has heavily cited their sources; you will find a list of "references," "works cited," or a "bibliography" following the article.
  • The scholarly article may begin with an abstract, or summary
  • There may be information about the author's affiliations or credentials at the beginning of the article, or in a footnote or endnote
  • There may be information on the publishing timeline, including a "date received," "date revised," and "date accepted for publication."
  • The article may be written by one or more collaborating researchers
  • The article is generally only available for purchase via subscription, although you may have access through the WSU Libraries
  • Contains in-depth research and substantive information
  • May provide a literature review  (a summary of research in the area that has already been conducted) early in the article text
  • Has the potential to create discourse among researchers, fostering communication and enriching the scholalry community

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.


A popular journal article is not peer-reviewed. Generally, the article will be subjected to the editor's judgement, but will not be submitted to outside reviewers. Popular articles have the following attributes:

  • Sometimes accompanied by glossy photos or advertising
  • Have little or no references at the end of the article
  • Often offer a good overview of a topic, but do not provide in-depth research
  • May be purchased at a newstand or bookstore
  • May provide the most current information on a given topic

The FindIt@WSU Button

When you identify a journal article in a database, or through WSU WorldCat and do not see full text access, click on the "FindIt@WSU" button to see if we might have access to the article in another database. If the "FindIt@WSU" button only displays  an Inter Library Loan option, you will have to order a copy of the article. For more information on using FindIt, see this instructional viewlet.

WSU Libraries, PO Box 645610, Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164-5610, 509-335-9671, Contact Us