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When you are evaluating sources, it's a good idea to keep certain guiding questions in your mind. Some questions that you might consider are as follows:
One tip that may help you in your search for relevant and quality information is when you find a source that is directly on point with your research question(s) look to see if they author has any references. If they do, you may be able to use some of them for your own paper. You can also research the author(s) to see if they have other publications that may be helpful to you.
What does scholarly mean?
A scholarly article introduces new knowledge based on original research or experimentation. Many scholarly articles undergo a process called peer-review. In this process, experts in the field scrutinize articles before they are published, resulting in a body of quality scholarly information.
How do you know if you've found a scholarly article?
If you find an article through a web search, you need to determine if it is scholarly. Even if you find an article in a database, you may not be looking at a scholarly article as some databases index many types of publications. Use this chart to help you distinguish between scholarly and popular publications.
|Advertisements||Few, usually for publications||Numerous, color|
|Appearance||Black and white, plain, charts, graphs||Color, slick, glossy, illustrations, photographs|
|Audience||Professors, researchers||General public|
|Author||Scholar, academic, expert||Journalists|
|Editing||Peer review||Magazine editors|
|Language||Specialized vocabulary||Simple, accessible|
|Publisher||University press, research institutes, scholarly press, professional organizations||Commercial, for-profit|
|Purpose/Intent||Original research, methodology, theory||Entertain, inform, sell, promote|
|Documentation||Footnotes, bibliographies, works cited||Sources rarely cited|
Many times scholarly articles are sufficient for your research, but if your article must be peer-reviewed, you will need to find that information in the Serials Directory. Search for the journal that the article appeared in. Serials Directory will then tell you if the articles in that publication are considered scholarly and if they undergo a peer-review process.
Still need help? Ask a librarian.
The video below recaps the peer review process. The following are additional important criteria to consider as you complete your papers: