Monday, September 21, 2009

What Is a Journal Article?

Can you tell the difference between this article and this one? The first is a scholarly journal article; the second is a magazine article. What are the differences between the two articles? What makes a journal article scholarly, or peer-reviewed?

The first article has some distinguishing features that make it scholarly in nature. For instance, this article has both an abstract and references. (Two features that are typical for scholarly journal articles.) The author, M. R. Jalongo, is affiliated with Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and he is the one conducting research on this topic. Also, take a look at the format of the article; there are no pictures or catchy graphics.

Now compare that to the second article. Notice that this article has several photographs. The design of the page is more flashy and colorful. Where are the references? Who is writing the article?

The Cornell University Library does an excellent job of further explaining the differences between scholarly journal articles and magazines. To read a more in-depth comparison, just take a look.

Knowing the difference between scholarly journal articles and magazines will be helpful when your professor asks you to include these types of resources in your paper. Remember, scholarly journal articles present research done in that field of study or discipline; the article is published for academic purposes -- to further knowledge and encourage investigation. When writing a paper, it is those sources to whom you should look as support for your argument.