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NURS 216 Transition to Baccalaureate Nursing

Nursing Faculty: Sheryl Stuck, Spring Semester 2019

Look for the IMRaD elements in Peer-Reviewed Articles

Primary research articles (also called empirical/clinical studies or research articles) contain firsthand information or original data on a topic that is not interpreted, evaluated, or analyzed.  These articles also include components or a variation of these components: Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion (known as the IMRaD format). 
Primary research articles are usually peer-reviewed (
i.e. article was critically evaluated by experts in the field before accepted for publication).

Characteristics of Scholarly Articles

When trying to determine if an article would be considered "scholarly," look at the following characteristics:

  • Length: The article is usually several pages long, and can, at times, be as long as 20 to 30 pages.
  • Author: There is always an author or group of authors listed. The author(s) usually have credentials or affiliations listed.
  • Audience: The intended audience is other experts, researchers, and students in the field.
  • Refereed: Articles may be “refereed,” or reviewed by peers prior to being accepted for publication.
  • Illustrations: The article may include maps, tables, and graphs that support the text. Colorful photographs are rarely used.
  • References: The article always includes citations to research discussed in the article in the form of footnotes, endnotes, or bibliographies.
  • Language: Look for vocabulary that would be used in the author’s field or discipline.
  • Format: The article follows a standardized format (APA, MLA, etc.).
  • Title: Keep in mind that not all scholarly journals have “Journal” in the title (although many do). Also, not every source that has “Journal” in the title is actually scholarly. (Example: Ladies Home Journal)

Why Peer-Review Matters

What is the Peer Review Process and Why it Matters?
According to the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors, "peer review is the critical assessment of manuscripts submitted to journals by experts who are usually not part of the editorial staff. Because unbiased, independent, critical assessment is an intrinsic part of all scholarly work, including scientific research, peer review is an important extension of the scientific process." (ICMJE, 2017)

When searching the literature, be sure to choose peer-reviewed publications. The peer review process gives articles more authority. Keep in mind that not every item indexed in a peer-reviewed journal is an article (e.g. book reviews, letters).

Please note that not all scholarly/academic publications include peer-reviewed articles. See sample publications below.

                Scholarly Journal                 Trade/Professional Magazines and Journals    


Nursing (Nursing2017) is a peer-reviewed journal containing some peer-reviewed articles. The other trade/professional publications will likely not include peer-reviewed articles.

Nursing Review is a trade/professional publication with non-peer-reviewed articles including monthly features, topical opinion pieces, news articles, and profiles in the field of Nursing.


Is it Scholarly?