Skip to Main Content


Seven Steps - A Research Strategy: 4: Articles

(formerly IvyTILT)





Articles in Scholarly Journals

Magazines, newspapers, and journals are called periodicals because they are issued on a regular or "periodic" basis (daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly).  Periodicals can be separated into two groups: popular and scholarly. 

Popular Magazines (Sports Illustrated, Rolling Stone) can provide useful information, but consider certain characteristics of magazines before using them as a source. Magazines:

  • Are written for the general public
  • Contain many photographs and advertisements
  • Contain short articles over a range of topics that might summarize research or current issues
  • Are generally published on a weekly or monthly basis
  • Are less authoritative, but can be more up-to-date

Scholarly Journals (Musical QuarterlyJournal of American History) provide in-depth, authoritative information. They are generally published on a monthly or quarterly basis.  You should know a few of their general characteristics. Scholarly journals:

  • Feature in-depth articles that report on research and case studies, provide critical analysis
  • Are written by experts in a specific field and include bibliographies
  • Are written for an audience of scholars, researchers, professionals, and students
  • Are sometimes referred to as “peer-reviewed” or “academic” sources
  • Are generally sponsored by an academic or professional organization
Select the tabs below to learn more about articles.

Magazines vs. Journals: Which One is Best?

If you need to find scholarly information for your paper, choose an academic journal rather than a popular magazine. Journal articles are written by and for scholars and almost always include a list of references or works cited.  An editorial board of scholars reviews all articles submitted to a journal (a "peer review"). They decide if the article provides a noteworthy contribution to the discipline (e.g., JAMA, Journal of American History).

Magazines might offer timely information in an easier to understand language and format. An interview in magazine with an expert connected to your topic might not be available in any other publication.  Of course, not all magazines are good sources for citation in college coursework.  Consider the magazine's purpose and audience. Does the magazine have a serious tone and focus on academic topics? (e.g. Time, National Geographic, Scientific American).

Online academic databases (EBSCOhost, ProQuest, Gale) provide citation information, and often the fulltext of the article, for thousands of periodicals.


Academic databases provide three levels of information:

  • Citation: bibliographic information about the article (author, title, URL, etc…)
  • Abstract: a brief summary of the article
  • Fulltext: the complete text of the article

Note that depending upon the database, abstracts and fulltext content aren't always available. 

Types of Article Databases

There are two general types of academic databases.  A wide variety of resources, including article databases, are listed:  A to Z List of Resources.

General Article Databases cover a wide range of subjects and often index a mixture of popular and scholarly sources. These types of databases are often a good place to begin. Some examples are:

  • ProQuest Research Library: Covers social sciences (anthropology, culture, criminology), arts, business, humanities, and physical sciences.
  • MasterFILE Premier (EBSCOhost): Covers nearly every type of general interest topic with books, bibliographies, documents, and images.
  • Academic Search Premier (EBSCOhost):  A multi-disciplinary database that covers virtually every area of academic study. It offers full text articles, indexing and abstracts for all journals in the collection.

Subject Databases offer collections of articles focused upon a specific subject area.  Subject databases include:

  • Health and Wellness Resource Center (GALE): Offers indexed and full-text magazines, journals, newsletters (since 1980), newspapers (since 1998), pamphlets, and 25 reference sources on health and medical topics.
  • Business Source Premier (EBSCOhost): The world’s largest full-text business database offering scholarly journals for virtually all subject areas related to business. This database offers full text articles for more than 300 of the top journals dating back to 1922.
  • PsycARTICLES (EBSCOhost): Scholarly and scientific journals primarily from the American Psychology Association.


Try Discover! 

This searching tool sends your search to a wide range of resource types: to collections of journals, ebooks, and reference resources.  You will find a Discover! search box on the start page of Ivy Tech campus library websites. 

Now, try these self-check questions as
an informal quiz of your understanding. 


Finding Articles


Return to ENGL 111 Lumen text resource: Seven Steps - A Research Strategy

Return to ENGL 111 Lumen text resource: Table of Contents