How to Find Scholarly Articles

In academia, the term "scholarly article" refers to research or review articles published in academic journals. Such articles are peer-reviewed, meaning that they are reviewed by other experts in the field who check and approve their content. They also contain extensive references, allowing readers to check the facts cited in the article. Because of these facts, scholarly articles are a valuable resource when writing an essay or thesis. They are also easy to find using a few simple resources.

Step 1

Learn to recognize the characteristics of scholarly articles. Peer review and extensive bibliographies and references are the qualities of scholarly work. Avoid brief articles intended for general audience; these are not suitable material for research.

Step 2

Check the holdings of your local university library. Most college libraries maintain large stocks of academic journals. Ask librarians for information on where journals are located; in many libraries, they are in a special room or section.

Step 3

Investigate online resources. Many journals now offer articles from their print versions online. Users can purchase articles individually or use online subscriptions. Many universities have access to online journals through subscription programs; if you are affiliated with an institution of higher learning and have access through a subscription service, you will be able to log in to journal websites and download articles using the login information provided by your university. Some commonly used sites are included in the Resources section below.


Keep a note of any titles you see repeatedly. If you notice one text used in multiple articles, there is an excellent chance that the information it offers is of use to you.


Keep a journal or annotated bibliography for the articles you find and read. This will help you keep track of important points and common themes.

Databases are not search engines. Search engines will give you general information found on the web, and do not require any evaluation except by yourself. Scholarly articles in databases, however, have been peer-reviewed for content and are not likely to give you false information.

Always evaluate the source before using it in a paper or project. Know who the author is, their qualifications, and the journal the article was published in. If you cannot identify these elements, then the source may not be credible.

Things You'll Need

  • Internet access
  • Library access