A journal can be considered scholarly or academic (though not necessarily peer-reviewed) if it conforms to the standards of scholarly publishing. Though not all scholarly articles/journals have all of these earmarks, these are some indicators to look for:
When in doubt, ask a librarian for assistance in determining whether or not a journal is scholarly or not.
Remember to read your assignment instructions carefully to determine what kinds of sources are acceptable and ask your instructor for clarification if you have any questions.
A peer-reviewed journal is a periodical where the quality of the articles is maintained through a review process conducted by experts prior to publication. Articles submitted to a refereed or peer-reviewed journal are examined by one or more people with expertise in the field with which the article deals. This process gives the scholarly community some assurance that the information in the article is valid and credible. Some disciplines require peer-reviewed status more than others.
Other types of periodicals include newspapers, popular magazines, and trade publications.
How can I tell if a journal is peer-reviewed?
Within the database, the information about the journal, whether a "Source Type" field or a description of the journal, will specifically mention that the publication is peer-reviewed. You can also do a Google search for the journal's official website, which should include information about the peer-review process, if one exists.
For more information on this topic, take a look at these informative charts which describe the differences between types of publications.