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How to Identify Scholarly Journals

Research Minutes is a series for undergraduate students at Cornell University covering library research topics.

Tools for identifying and comparing scholarly journals

By googling the journal homepage you should be able to find information on things like the aim and scope of the journal, but also if the journal is Peer-reviewed. You can also use tools like the ones presented below and check whether a journal is peer-reviewed or not, if it has a high ranking within its subject area, etc. 

Peer review in 3 Minutes

North Carolina State University Libraries explains Peer Review.

Scholarly material, Jönköping university

Scientific Publication Types

The following documents are common in the scientific publication process:

The Application - sometimes it is possible to reach applications for grants/funding or other financial support for different research projects. This might give you a hint on what new areas of interest within your subject. 

Conference papers/proceedings - along the way, the researcher may report results at conferences. The papers can be published both as:

  • Pre-prints - a draft to an article/paper that has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal. Usually distributed before or during the meeting. They are sometimes called working papers.
  • Conference reports / proceedings - These are often published after the conference and collect the papers (as a summary or only an abstract).

Research reports - usually published by universities, research institutes, companies, organizations or government authorities to present their research. Usually these reports don't undergo the same quality control as scientific journal articles do, so the scientific weight might vary.

Journal articles - a common way for researchers to reach out with their findings and scientific work is to write an article for a journal in within their field. Usually scientific articles are published in journals that are refereed or peer reviewed. In short the peer review means that a group of peers read and evaluate the paper to determine if it merits publication in that journal. Approximately 50% of conference papers get published as full journal articles within two years.

Books - researchers often publish books or chapters in books (anthologies) to communicate their research. The most common is the dissertation, which is the result of their work during their Ph D studies - The PhD thesis in book form.

If you want current information it might be a good idea to consult publications that occur early in the publication process, such as for example conference proceedings or journal articles, since books take longer to publish.