Once you read a couple scholarly articles, it will be easy to recognize ones in the future. The number one thing you might notice about scholarly articles is that they are hard to read. Yikes! Why do we want to read something so hard? Well, as you continue on your journey in education, you will learn how to read these dense and complex texts. It will get easier with practice! Reading scholarly articles will grow your critical reading and thinking skills, increase the depth of your knowledge, and as time goes on, it will help you become a scholar, too.
Let's look at an example of a scholarly article.
Click on the image hotspots (the purple plus signs) to explore the features of this article which help us know that it is scholarly.
Kurtovic, A. Vrdoljak, G., & Idzanovic, A. (2019). Predicting Procrastination: The Role of Academic Achievement, Self-efficacy and Perfectionism, International Journal of Educational Psychology. 8(1),1- 26. doi: 10.17583/ijep.2019.2993 is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License (CC-BY).
Headings can give you a big clue if an article is scholarly. For example, above we have a screenshot of the beginning of the "Methods" section of the same article. A "Methods" or "Methodology" section indicates that this article is original research. Here, the researchers describe how they conducted their study. This is an excellent indicator that an article is scholarly on its own, but there are other headings to look out for, too:
Many scholarly articles begin with an introduction and review of the research which has already been done on their topic. An abstract, when present, is usually the very first page of an article. It gives a summary of the whole article. Scholarly articles generally have one or both of these.
This section explains how the researchers did their research - just like writing out your steps for a lab report, so that others know exactly what you did, what you measured, and how.
After sharing how the research was done, the authors will explain what the results of the research was. This section typically contains charts, tables, or graphs, along with detailed explanations.
The discussion section proposes what the results mean, and puts them into the context of how they fit with other studies that have been done. This section also often discusses topics for future research, and limitations of the study.
Look for IMRAD headings - most scholarly articles will have similar headings, though they might not be identical.
Holy Citations, Batman!
The article we have been looking at has a total of 6 pages of references which have been cited. Scholarly articles like this one are likely to have reference lists that take up multiple pages, because scholars are careful to give credit to other scholars, as well as back up their own ideas.