How do I know if an article is scholarly or peer reviewed?

Criteria for evaluating academic or scholarly articles


Scholarly articles will include information about the author(s), their university, college or research institute affiliations, and contact information. Author(s) of scholarly articles should have academic credentials that are easy to locate.


Who was the article written for? Is the article written for the general public or for someone with more specialized knowledge?


Is the language specialized or technical? Does it assume a background in the subject area? Scholarly articles are more narrow in topic and will be written in academic language, assuming the reader understands the context and subject area.


Scholarly articles are typically longer than magazine articles. The length will vary, depending on the subject area.


Scholarly articles will have headings, and standard sections such as an introduction and conclusion. Scholarly articles may also contain tables, graphs or charts.

References / Bibliography / Footnotes / Endnotes

All scholarly articles cite their sources and will present them in a bibliography or endnotes at the end of the article, or in footnotes at the bottom of each page. These citations will include all the information necessary to locate the sources.

tip Tip: Identifying and avoiding fake news

University of Toronto Libraries has a handy guide, offering tips on how to identify and avoid fake news online. How do I spot fake news?

Finding scholarly articles in an article database

catalogue limits

Often professors ask that you find scholarly or peer-reviewed articles for your assignment. Earlier in this section, you learned about the peer-review process. But how do you select scholarly or peer-reviewed articles from a results list after performing a search in an article database?

When you are looking at search results in a journal article database, you will typically see both scholarly and non-scholarly articles. Look for a menu with options to limit your results to academic, scholarly or peer-reviewed articles. Using the limit option for scholarly (peer-reviewed) journals, will eliminate all non-scholarly articles.

Remember to always evaluate the articles you find in order to make sure that they are indeed scholarly/academic/peer reviewed.

example Example

Your assignment is to write an essay about pay equity legislation and women. You perform the search in Academic Search Complete, a large, multi-disciplinary journal article database. Let's evaluate articles from this database search, based on criteria we've looked at already, to see if they are scholarly/academic/peer reviewed.

How Do I Know if Articles Are Scholarly or Peer-Reviewed? [2:21 minutes].
tip Tip: What does my professor mean when they ask for peer-reviewed articles?
Peer Review in Three Minutes [3:15] (North Carolina State University)
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