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Fake vs. Real: Identifying & Evaluating Information Sources: Fake Scholarly Articles

This guide provides you with resources to help you differentiate between fake news and genuine sources of news and information.


Scholarly journals are also called academic, peer-reviewed, or refereed journals. Strictly speaking, peer-reviewed (also called refereed) journals refer only to those scholarly journals that submit articles to several other scholars, experts, or academics (peers) in the field for review and comment. These reviewers must agree that the article represents properly conducted original research or writing before it can be published.


How to Identify a Scholarly Peer Reviewed Journal Article

5 Key Characteristics:

1) Author(s) with credentials (e.g. PhD) and/or affiliations (e.g. university professor)

2) A specific focus on contributing new, original research in a narrow area of the subject (often indicated through a long title)

3) Technical and formal language with complex ideas and arguments, an objective tone, and an analytical perspective

4)  Lengthy (at least 5 pages of text) with many references, footnotes and/or endnotes

5) Plain appearance with very minimal use of colour, graphics and/or images

Additional "Clues" (typical but not necessary):

  • A "received" date and "accepted" date, which indicate a peer review process prior to publication
  • An abstract on the front page, which summarizes the content of the article
  • Structured into sections indicating a research study, with headings such as: Introduction, Purpose or Objective; Research Methods or Design; Analysis, Themes or Theoretical Approach; Results or Findings; Discussion or Conclusion

Scholarly/ Scientific Articles: Don't get Scammed

Useful Databases

Use these databases when looking for news and media and communication related articles. 

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