What makes an article "academic"?

An academic article, also called a scholarly article, is an article written by an expert in an academic field. These articles are intended for other experts and scholars, rather than the general public. There are several ways to determine whether an article is scholarly. While none of these are hard-and-fast rules, they can be useful clues:

  • The article is written by researcher(s), professional(s) or other expert(s).
  • The article appears in an academic journal rather than a magazine or newspaper.*
  • The article is of significant length (usually over five pages).
  • The article includes a substantial bibliography or reference list.
  • The article is peer reviewed.
  • The article presents original research or analysis of a topic.
  • The article uses technical or expert-level language.

*It's important to note that academic journals, in addition to articles, also publish editorials, book reviews, film reviews, letters, columns, and other marginalia that are not considered scholarly articles. Make sure you look for some other clues before deciding that you're looking at a scholarly article.

Academic Databases