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Biology / BIOL& 295IE

Resources for Brian Brady's Biology class assignment

Identifying an Academic Article

How do I know if a source is academic?

There are resources on this page to help you, but here is a basic checklist:

  • Has a serious appearance (not a lot of images or flashy text)
  • Use of language is technical or complex (uses scientific terms, direct language)
  • The words "Journal," "Transactions," "Proceedings," or "Quarterly," may appear in the name of the source.
  • Written for and/or by an audience of "experts" in the field - those familiar with terminology and subject: professors, students or researchers. 
  • Signed by the authors.
  • Articles might be reviewed by a board of experts or "peer reviewers."
  • Follow a format:  abstract, literature review, methodology, results, conclusion, possibly footnotes, endnotes and/or bibliography.
  • May include tables, graphs or illustrations to support research.
  • Provides citations and references

For more, see our Identifying Sources Guide

Features of a Peer-Reviewed Article

When you are determining whether or not the article you found is a peer-reviewed article, you should consider the following.

Does the article have the following features?

Image of the first page of a peer-reviewed article. These items are highlighted: Been published in a scholarly journal.   An overall serious, thoughtful tone.   More than 10 pages in length (usually, but not always).   An abstract (summary) on the first page.  Organization by headings such as Introduction, Literature Review, and Conclusion.  Citations throughout and a bibliography or reference list at the end.  Credentialed authors, usually affiliated with a research institute or university.

Scholarly, Popular, or Trade?

Different types of publications have different purposes and different audiences. When we talk about periodicals, we can usually divide these publications into three broad categories: scholarly, popular, and trade publications. 

  Scholarly Journals Popular Magazines Trade Journals
Purpose Informs and reports on original research done by scholars and experts in the field.  Published by professional organizations, university presses, and research institutes. Entertains and informs a general audience without providing in-depth analysis.  Published by commercial presses. Reports on industry trends and new products or techniques useful to people in a trade or business. Published by commercial presses or industry associations.
Authors Articles are written by subject specialists and experts in the field.  Reviewed by experts (peer review) not employed by the journal. Articles are written by journalists, freelance writers, or an editorial staff.  No peer-review process. Articles are written by specialists in a certain field or industry as well as journalists.  No peer-review process.
Audience Intended for a limited audience - researchers, scholars, and experts. Intended for a broad segment of the population, appealing to a general audience. Intended for practitioners in a particular profession, business, or industry.

Journal of Biochemistry

American Sociological Review

Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly

U.S. News and World Report

Reader's Digest

Rolling Stone

CMA Today

Advertising Age


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