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Research Guides

HIS102: Empires, Encounters, and Exchanges: From the Silk Road to the Present

Choosing a good article for your essay

When you choose an article for your paper, you want to be sure that it is:

-relevant to your topic, and the argument that you with to make

-at least some articles should be current, and reflect recent research

-substantial, beware of an article that is only a few pages

-your articles should be scholarly, although reliable, substantive news sources may also be appropriate at times

What is a scholarly journal article?

Scholarly journal articles report on original research by experts in a particular academic discipline.

Often they go through a peer-review process, which means that they are evaluated by reputable scholars in the field before they are published. 

Examples of scholarly journals in history include:

Is the journal scholarly?

Is the journal itself scholarly? How would you find out?

Look up the journal web site on google and look for information on their editorial policy. The following are good signs:

Is it published by a scholarly association?

Does it list the members of the editorial board, and are they recognized scholars in the field? Are they affiliated with universities or other research bodies?

Does it say that they journal is peer-reviewed?<br>


You can also look up the name of a journal in Ulrichsweb Global Serials Directory to see if it is scholarly or peer-reviewed.

Look up the name of your journal, then look for the icons on the side. Putting quotes around the name of the journal may help you find it, as in,  "American Historical Review."  

Look at your results:



The referee's shirt means that the journal is peer-reviewed. The star means that it is scholarly.

What is the Difference between a Magazine and a Scholarly Journal



Popular vs scholarly?

Magazine Scholarly Journals


  • To entertain/inform
  • Commercial
  • To report research
  • Academic
  • Pictures
  • Advertisements
  • Graphs/statistics
  • Few/no advertisements
  • Exciting Language
  • Short Article
  • Technical Language
  • Long Article
  • Journalist, not an expert on the topic
  • Expert(s) with name and position listed
  • Another journalist
  • Other experts on the topic
  • Almost never
  • Always includes

Criteria for evaluating scholarly journals


Who wrote it?

What are her or his credentials?



Does the author acknowledge his or her sources? How?



Is the content substantial?

Does it appear to be valid and well-researched?

Does it make sense, based on your own background knowledge, or what other articles have to say on the topic?



Is the language scholarly?

Is the article well written?

Do illustrations and data support the content in a scholarly fashion, or do they appear to be attention-getting, or sensational?



Who is the article written for?

Is it written for experts and researchers in the field, or for members of the general public?



Is it published in a scholarly journal?

Here are excellent explanations of how to evaluate information sources, and  how to distinguish between scholarly and other periodicals.