ENGL 101 English Composition 1 (Autoethnography Theme)

Project: Writing Autoethnography

What is a scholarly article?

Cover of the journal of women in culture and society

What is a scholarly article?

Scholarly articles are articles that have been created by academic experts in the field you are studying that have been peer-reviewed (reviewed by other academics in the same subject).

Scholarly research can help us understand the "big picture"-- how experiences around social movements have developed over time or how society is reacting as a whole to a change.

For example, for Women's Liberation, this might include articles by historians, sociologists, or scholars who study gender issues -- academic research on social movements can cover multiple different academic areas of study.

How can I find scholarly articles?
  • You can find these in a general article database from the library like Academic Search Complete, ProQuest, or JSTOR. Keep in mind that peer-reviewed articles can be highly specific!
  • You'll need to check the "peer-reviewed" or "scholarly" search box for best results. Links to these databases are available below this box.
  • Not sure how to start?-- Ask a librarian! - The librarians are available to help! Check out the "Help" tab of this guide for all the ways you can contact a librarian from home or in the library.

What are Subject Terms?

Searching by Subject Terms

Use Subject Terms instead of keywords to find the most relevant articles on a topic.

As shown in the image below, you can click on "Subject Terms" in the top banner in Academic Search Complete. This will allow you to search a word and see a list of related terms, broader terms, or narrower terms. You can then use a specific subject heading to search, or you can try using one of those terms to revise your own search. It is a good way of tapping into the words that the database uses to organize info, and thus, find what you need.

(click on image to enlarge)sample search, highlighting how to use subject terms as outlined in the text above image

Limiting by source type in the databases

Finding Scholarly Journal Articles in Library Databases

When searching for articles in library databases, you can limit your search to only scholarly journals. The screenshots of the databases shown below outline where you can limit by source type to find the type of article you need. Remember that academic articles and scholarly articles are the same thing; different databases use the different terms but you can know that they are the same!

Limiting to academic journals in Ebsco's Academic Search Complete database

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search results

Limiting to scholarly journals in ProQuest Combined Databases

Limiting in this database is very similar to other advanced searches in the library's databases. You can click to limit to full-text articles, to peer-reviewed articles, and you can use the built in Boolean tools (AND, OR, NOT) to change your search results and combine your simple keywords.

(Click on image to enlarge)

This image shows a screeshot of the database search page, showing how you can search by topic or keyword in the search boxes provided, and how you can then check a box to limit to full-text and to scholarly journals

Sample Search

Searching tips

Using the advanced search option in most of the databases is a great way to control your search. As shown in the image below, you can search by using multiple terms. Here, the example search reads like this: housing AND discrimination AND (lesbian OR lgbtq OR gay). In a search like this, you're asking the database to find articles where those three concepts overlap. 

In the image below also notice that...

  • You can limit by source type, choosing to narrow just to scholarly, peer reviewed articles, or looking for more popular sources like magazines and newspapers. Be sure to limit if you need to find just one type of source.
  • You can limit to full-text; this ensures that any of the results you see listed are there, available for download immediately.
  • You can also note the Subject terms used by the database, highlighted just below the article's title. These are terms the database uses to organize the articles. By tapping into those words, you can find more related content.

(click on image to enlarge)

sample search screen highlighting features outlined in text above image