Scholarly journals are journals that are well respected for the information and research they provide on a particular subject. They are written by experts in a particular field or discipline and their purpose is to advance the ongoing body of work within their discipline. These articles might present original research data and findings, or take a position on a key question within the field. They can be difficult to read, because their intended audience is other experts and academics, but they are the capstone when it comes to authoritative information.
Scholarly journals are oftentimes peer-reviewed or refereed. A peer-reviewed or refereed article has gone through a process where other scholars in the author’s field or discipline critically assess a draft of the article. The actual evaluations are similar to editing notes, where the author receives detailed and constructive feedback from the peer experts. However, these reviews are not made available publicly.
Please keep in mind that not all scholarly journals go through the peer-review process. However, it is safe to assume that a peer-reviewed journal is also scholarly. In short, “scholarly” means the article was written by an expert for an audience of other experts, researchers, or students. “Peer-reviewed” takes it one step further and means the article was reviewed and critiqued by the author’s peers who are experts in the same subject area. The vast majority of scholarly articles are peer-reviewed.