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What is a Journal?: Home

Why you should care

An educated person is one that develops ideas and opinions based on the best available evidence.

Scholarly, peer-reviewed journals are excellent sources of evidence.

The articles have gone through a review process that is designed to eliminate factual errors and unreasoned arguments.

Scholarly articles are how experts in a subject area communicate with each other in a formal way.

If these reasons are bit too abstract for you, then here is one for the more practical minded:

Your professors require you to use scholarly or peer-reviewed articles in your papers. 

Definition of a Journal

What is the first thing that comes to mind when someone says the word 'journal"?

I suspect most of us think of a daily record that a person keeps, like a diary.

But like many other words in English, 'journal' has a different meaning in different situations.

In the college classroom a journal most often means:

"A newspaper or magazine that deals with a particular subject or professional activity:
 for example: 'medical journals’ " (from

The articles in these journals are written by scholars or scientists that specialize in the subject matter of the journal.

Definition of an Academic or Scholarly Journal

These terms are used inter-changeably to refer to journals that publish articles by scholars and scientists.

Some journals cover a fairly broad subject area, such as the Journal of American History. That journal will publish articles on all aspects of the history dealing with North America.

Others, such as the Journal of Canadian History, publish only articles on a more specialized topic.

In all cases, articles in these journals go through an editorial review process. This often involves other experts in the subject of the article reviewing it before publication.

What does this mean for you? It means that you can trust that the authors know what they are writing about. Oh, it also is the type of article your professors require you to use in your assignments.