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Literature Reviews in Education

Scholarly Sources and Peer Review

A scholarly, peer reviewed article is one that is written by a researcher and is based on that scholar's research. Peer reviewed articles are reviewed by fellow researchers in the field prior to being published (hence the term "peer reviewed") All peer reviewed articles are scholarly, but not all scholarly articles undergo a peer review process before publication.  

Books can also be scholarly in focus, written by experts for an audience of other experts and researchers in the field. Scholarly books are typically published by scholarly and university presses. They can be helpful resources for overviews of research, descriptions of theories or models, and examples of literature reviews. 

How to ID a Scholarly Article

Characteristics of a scholarly article include: 

  • Often multiple authors who are experts in the field
  • Contains charts, tables, and graphs of research data
  • Section of the article describes the research methodology
  • Reports findings of original research, experimentation, or in-depth study
  • Intended audience is other researchers, includes specialized vocabulary
  • Few or no advertisements in the article


Making Choices

It is often not possible to address each article published on your research topic. You'll need to evaluate the articles you find and decide which sources to include in your literature review. Here are some points to consider when deciding what to include. 

  • What are the key theories, models, or frameworks used in the research? Does the researcher use established ideas or take a new approach? 
  • What are the results and conclusions of the study? Does the work confirm, add to, or challenge current understanding? 
  • What are the key insights and arguments made by the author? How does the article contribute to your understanding of the topic? 
  • What are strengths and weaknesses of the research? 

In addition to the above, you should also read and include any landmark studies in your review. You will be able to identify these because they are mentioned in textbooks, are highly cited, or have been assigned as required reading by your professor and/or advisor.