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Getting Started with Research Tutorials

What is a scholarly source?

You will need to use a variety of source types for your research assignments. You're probably familiar with popular sources, but you may not be familiar with scholarly sources. Learn how scholarly sources are different from popular sources and how to tell the difference.

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Finding Scholarly Articles

The best places to search for scholarly articles are the UNL Library Catalog and Library Databases.

Limit Your Search to Peer Reviewed Sources

Look for a checkbox that limits the search to peer reviewed journals or scholarly articles. This image shows where to limit a search to peer reviewed journals in the UNL Library catalog.

availability filter - peer-reviewd journals library catalog

You can also limit a search to peer-reviewed journals using a subject-specific database. This image shows how to limit search results in Academic Search Premier, a key interdisciplinary database.

ebsco databases limit to scholarly

This image shows how to limit search results in ERIC (ProQuest), a key education database.

limit to scholarly, peer-reviewed journal articles, proquest database

Keep in mind:
  • Even after selecting the peer review filter, you must evaluate your results. 

  • Peer reviewed journals publish things other than scholarly research articles, like book reviews and editorials.

Next Steps

Try finding scholarly journals in a database of your choice. Want to learn how to search the Library Catalog or a subject-specific database? Use our Step-by-Step tutorials.


When conducting research it is important to distinguish between journal articles and magazine articles. Journal articles are typically referred to as "scholarly," while magazine articles are usually considered "popular". A third category, "trade" magazines or journals, are written for professionals in a particular field but are not strictly research related. Below are additional criteria to consider when differentiating between journals and magazines.

Criteria Scholarly Journals Popular Magazines Trade Publications
Sample Covers journal of food science and technology cover
bon appetit cover


-Empirical: Detailed report of an original research study

-Review: Summary/synthesis of many studies on a topic

-Theoretical: based on the intellectual tradition of a scholarly discipline

Secondary report or discussion may include personal narrative, opinion, anecdotes. Primary purpose it to entertain or inform. Reports and discussions about industry news, technology, best practices, trends, and products for a specific profession or industry.
Visual Style

Functional look - pages of text, graphs, and tables.
Often includes section headings.
No advertisements.

Sophisticated graphic design, colored images, and advertisements Sophisticated graphic design, colored images, and industry-related advertisements
Audience Academics and Professionals in the discipline written using discipline specific vocabulary (jargon). General Public People in the industry
Authors Experts or specialists (PhD), unpaid. Articles are typically written with
more than one author and
will list their academic affiliations.

Journalists, staff, writers, or freelance writers, paid.

Staff writers, industry specialists, or vendor representatives, both paid and unpaid
Publication Information

Usually includes a volume and
issue number on the first or
second pages.

Usually just includes a date
and sometimes time of publication
Often includes a volume and issue number
Article Title Usually has a complex
and long title
Short, easy to
understand titles
Short, easy to understand titles
Editorial Review Journal editorial board and
peer reviewers. Unpaid.
Professional editors. Paid. Professional editors. Paid.
Citations/Attributions Almost always (in-text citations AND reference lists, works cited, or bibliographies). Rarely and if they do have attributions they are usually links to external sources. Sometimes
Abstract Almost always Rarely Sometimes
Example Journal Journal of Food Science & Technology Bon Appétit Food Management
Stated Purpose "Publishes peer reviewed research papers in...
science, technology, packaging, and engineering of foods....
Special emphasis is given to
fundamental and applied research...."
"Offers 'life through the lens of food'
— cooking in, dining out, culture,
travel, entertainment,
shopping and design."
"Provides ideas for foodservice directors,
managers and chefs through coverage of industry issues and events,
operational topics and food trends
that affect the noncommercial foodservice industry."
Example Article Title "Tropical fruit juice: effect of thermal treatment and storage time on sensory and functional properties" "It's pie o'clock somewhere" "A deep dive into college dining"

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. Credit: This chart is based on the Scholarly and Popular Chart from NCSU Libraries.

For Instructors

Learning Outcomes:

What does it mean to be a scholarly source covers how to:

  • Identify a scholarly (versus a non-scholarly) source
  • Describe how a scholarly source differs from other types of sources

The video can be added to your Canvas course using the embed code.

<iframe title="What does it mean to be a scholarly source?" width="640" height="360" allowTransparency="true" mozallowfullscreen webkitallowfullscreen allowfullscreen style="background-color:transparent;" frameBorder="0" src=""></iframe>

Contact Melissa Gomis ( with any questions.

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