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Atrium - Cabarrus Teammates LibGuide: Scholarly Articles

Guide for Atrium Cabarrus Staff to assist with researching


So you need to write a paper for class and you need information from "Scholarly" sources and some of the articles need to be "Peer Reviewed".  What does that mean and how can you tell what is a "Scholarly" source and if the article is "Peer Reviewed"? Below is some information to help you determine what you need. If you are still having difficulty, please feel free to contact your instructor or ask a librarian for assistance.

Characteristics of a Scholarly Article

So you found an article and you want to know if it is a scholarly article or not.  Here are some characteristics* of scholarly articles. 

  1. Written by experts - look for the author's credentials or affiliations (what and where of expertise).
  2. Bibliographic information (author, title, publisher, date, volume and issue number).
  3. Written for other experts or people in the field.
  4. Use of scholarly language with technical, discipline specific vocabulary.
  5. Provide verifiable and reliable evidence for claim.
  6. Article has an Abstract providing a summary of the article.
  7. Most likely have an introduction, methodology (method in which the research was conducted), results, discussion, and conclusion.
  8. References/Work Cited section - this information is provided so readers can verify sources and/or use information for their own research.

Below is a chart* to help you determine an article is scholarly or not! 

CRAAP Test Information

What is the CRAAP test?  It is a method to determine if an article is accurate and reliable.  Remember, different criteria will be more or less important depending on your situation/need and the focus of your paper.  CRAAP stands for:






By using these methods, you are better able to evaluate your article to determine if it is one you would like to use for your paper. Remember, if you use the Library's Databases through NC AHEC, this is an easier process! Here is a CRAAP handout and worksheet to help you evaluate your source*

*Used with permission from Meriam Library, California State University, Chico


Currency refers to the timeliness of the article.  Below are some questions* to ask to determine the CURRENCY of the article:

  1. When was the article published?
  2. Has the information been revised or updated?
  3. Is the information current or out-of-date for your topic?
  4. If the information is off of the web (such as statistical information), please evaluate the website accordingly:
    • Are the links functional?
    • When was the last time the website was updated?

*used with permission from Meriam Library, California State University, Chico


Relevancy ask questions about the usefulness of the article to your topic/question.  These questions* can be:

  1. Does the information relate to your topic or answer your question?  If you are doing a paper on childhood diabetes, you may not want to use a paper about hypertension.
  2. Who is the intended audience?  Is your article written for professionals or for the general public?  Just because it is publicly available does not mean it is for the general public.  Scholarly articles are usually written for professionals of the field.
  3. Is the information at an appropriate academic level (i.e., not too elementary or advance for your needs?) 
  4. Is there better information available in other sources?  Have you looked at a variety of sources before determining this is the one you will use?

*used with permission from Meriam Library, California State University, Chico


Authority ask questions about where the information came from - the source of the information.  It asks questions* such as:

  1. Who is the author/publisher/source/sponsor?
  2. Are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations given?
  3. What are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations given?
  4. What are the author's qualifications to write on the topic?
  5. Is there contact information, such as a publisher or email address?
  6. If the source is from website (not a database), does the URL reveal anything about the author or source?  For example, .com, .edu, .gov, .org, and .net CAN indicate the type of website ( a .gov is a government website and a .com is usually a commercial and anyone can register for one).

*used with permission from Meriam Library, California State University, Chico


Accuracy ask questions about the reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of the informationThese questions* can be:

  1. Where does the information come from?  An article in Journal of Nursing Education is going to have more accuracy than a Blog by Jane Smith.
  2. Is the information supported by evidence?
  3. Has the information been reviewed or refereed?
  4. Can you verify any of the information in another source?
  5. Does the language or tone seem biased and free of emotion?
  6. As there spelling, grammar, or other typographical errors?

*used with permission from Meriam Library, California State University, Chico


Purpose ask why the reason exists.  It asks questions* such as:

  1. What is the purpose of the information?  to inform? to teach? to sell? to entertain? to persuade?
  2. Do the authors/sponsors make their intentions or purpose clear?
  3. Is the information fact? opinion? propaganda? Does the point of view appear objective and impartial?
  4. Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional, or personal biases? 

*used with permission from Meriam Library, California State University, Chico

How to see if Journal in Ebsco is Peer Reviewed

Ok, however, my instructor said that I needed "Peer Reviewed" articles.  Is there a quick way to find just those articles?  Yes, if you use NC AHEC and go into the CINAHL Complete database, you can limit your search to just Peer Reviewed Articles.  You need to be on the "Advanced Search" screen.  When you are on that screen, you will scroll down to about half-way and on the right column, you will see "Peer Reviewed" and you check that box and your search will be limited to just Peer Reviewed Articles.  Below is a picture:


Peer Reviewed Article:  Per, Peer Review is the "evaluation of scientific, academic, or professional work by others working in the same field."  A Peer Reviewed Article is a journal article that was written by a professional and evaluated by the author's "peers" (other professionals within the field or discipline).

Scholarly Journal:  A Scholarly Journal is a periodical (usually called "journal") in which the articles have been written by experts, researchers, and professionals within the field.  For example, Journal of Nursing is a scholarly journal; Entertainment Weekly is not a scholarly journal. 

Database:  A collection of professional works that can be accessed electronically.  Cabarrus College offers access to NC AHEC Digital Library which allows students to access multiple databases, including CINHAL Complete, PsyArticles, and OT Seeker. Also available is PubMed, which is a publicly accessed database.