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Academic or scholarly articles are often valuable research documents. The authors typically articulate a concise research question, contextualize the topic with a literature review and then provide their results or findings.  In some fields of scholarship, journal articles are the most important way for new information to be reported and shared. In other fields books may be more important.


  • Can be excellent for current and cutting-edge information
  • Topics can be specific to your area of study
  • Are usually vetted by a small editorial team of subject experts
  • Shorter than a book!


  • They may be too specific, not comprehensive

Learning outcomes

At the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Distinguish a scholarly journal publication from a popular magazine
  • Identify which online database to use based on your information need

For information on evaluating articles, see the Evaluating Your Sources section>Articles.