Skip to Main Content

How To - Distinguish between types of publications

About scholarly journals


Scholarly journals include one or more of the following:

  • Results of research (experiments and other research)
  • Case studies
  • Theories

Intended audience

Scholarly journals are written for scholars and researchers in a particular field.


Scholarly journal articles are written by experts in a particular field. In most fields, these experts are professors at colleges and universities. However, experts in some fields - like medicine and other sciences - might also work in hospitals, labs, government agencies, or similar organizations.


  • Authors are clearly identified; their graduate degrees or credentials are usually shown too
  • Words and phrases in the article may be used only by people in that field, or used in a certain way
  • Mostly black & white
  • May contain graphs or charts (photographs are less common)
  • Articles usually have many references to works, scholarship, or personal communications
  • Few, if any, advertisements


Many scholarly journals are published by professional associations, academic institutions, or sometimes commercial publishers.


Scholarly journals are usually published quarterly, monthly, or somewhere in between (so roughly between 4-12 times a year). Some scholarly journals are published weekly, but this is uncommon.

Scholarly journals are held to a high standard

Articles in scholarly journals are peer-reviewed. This means that other experts review these articles before they are published. The publication process can take a long time, especially if the author(s) need to make many edits. It's not unusual to see an article about research that was done a year or two before!

Scholarly journals can be hard to find... Ask your librarian for help.

  • Some people receive scholarly journals, because they are included in their membership in professional associations
  • Many people access scholarly journals through their library
  • Open access scholarly journals are freely available online, to anyone

What are some examples of scholarly journals?

Journal of Refugee Studies
* Accessed through Scarborough Library

The cover of volume 32, issue 2 of the Journal of Refugee Studies

Accountability in Research
* Accessed through Scarborough Library

International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning
* Accessed through Scarborough Library

*Open access journal