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Public Administration: Databases

Databases for finding articles

Scholarly Journals

Scholarly journals are written by and for people who have experience and expertise in a discipline or field. The articles in scholarly journals are often peer-reviewed, meaning that other experts in the field review the articles before they are published. Scholarly journals present original research, new theories, and critiques of theories and research.  Some articles review the research in a particular field.

How do you know an article is from a peer-reviewed, scholarly journal? Some databases provide you with the choice of limiting your search to such journals - but be careful! Not all articles in a peer-reviewed scholarly journal are peer-reviewed. Some are editorials and book reviews. If you want to include scholarly journal articles in your paper, it is up to you to determine whether they are peer-reviewed. Here are some questions to ask when determining whether an article is from a scholarly journal:

  • What is the purpose of the publication? Are the articles written by experts, for experts? 
  • Are the authors' names listed along with their degrees, titles, or other credentials along with the names of the institutions with which they are affiliated (particularly colleges, universities, and research institutes)? 
  • Does the article include footnotes, a bibliography, or list of references? 
  • Does an abstract or summary of the article appear before the article itself begins?
  • Is the periodical published or sponsored by a scholarly society or organization? (for example, the American Political Science Association, the Modern Language Association)
  • Does the periodical title contain the words Journal, Studies, Research, or Review? 
  • Are there submission guidelines in the journal that describe a peer-review process?

If all of these elements are present, the article is very likely to be from a scholarly journal. If you aren't sure, you can always ask a librarian!

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