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CRJU 361 Criminal Justice Research Methods: Scholarly Journals and Articles

Fall 2018

Scholarly Articles

Most of your sources should be scholarly research articles. The materials on this page will help you to learn the characteristics of scholarly articles and how to recognize them.

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Scholarly Journals and Articles

How would you distinguish between these kinds of periodicals?

  • Newspapers
  • Magazines
  • Trade publications
  • Scholarly journals

How would you define a scholarly journal? Take into consideration the following:

  • Audience (how do you know who a periodical is intended for?)
  • "Peer-Reviewed" (what does that mean?)
  • Content (types of articles, advertisements, reviews and othe content)
  • Format (size, paper, use of color, photographs and illustrations)

There are several types of scholarly articles and communications. Generally, when you are looking for scholarly articles, you are looking for research articles, that is, articles that report original research. Depending on the discipline and methodology, research articles may vary a little in format but all will present a research question or hypothesis, a literature review, results of a study or analysis, and conclusions about the original research question or hypothesis. These parts may be identified as subheadings in the article, depending on the journal.

  • Research question or statement of hypothesis
  • Literature review
  • Methodology
  • Results
  • Discussion of Results
  • Conclusions

Scholarly articles will also be well-documented with references. Many will have a reference list or bibliography at the end of the article. Some journals also publish an abstract of the article at the beginning.

Because scholarly journals publish articles based on original research, they have an editorial process different from other types of periodicals. Typically, the editor of a scholarly journal will send a manuscript to a number of experts in the field for review before accepting or rejecting an article for publication. Readers often make suggestions for revisions, but their primary function is to help the editor determine whether the article should be published. Journals that use the peer-review process are called peer-reviewed or refereed journals. It is important to note that generally only the research articles in scholarly journals are peer-reviewed, and many scholarly journals include book reviews and other kinds of content. Since checking the peer-review box in most databases only limits to type of journal, you will still have to make sure you are looking at a research article and not, say, a book review.

A citation includes the essential information for a particular source that allows the reader to access that source. The essential elements of a citation for an article are:


Article Title

Journal Name

Date (Year or Month and Year for most scholarly journals)

Volume Number

Issue Number

Inclusive Page Numbers

If you are using a particular citation style (such as APA), you may need to add information such as the DOI number of an electronic document.

See the Citation Styles library guide for information on specific citation styles.

  • Follow the citations! When you read encyclopedia articles, textbooks, books, and articles about your topic, note references for other articles that are relevant.
  • Search an article index (database). Choose a disciplinary database for finding the best selection of scholarly articles in a certain field. 
  • Follow full-text links in databases. Be aware of the difference between HTML and PDF full-text formats.
  • When you have a citation, use Full Text Finder! Whether you find a citation through reading or by a search in a database that does not have the article in full-text, go directly to Full Text Finder to determine if USC Upstate Library has access to the article.
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