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What are Scholarly Sources?: Home

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What are "scholarly" sources? Scholarly sources, such as books and journal articles, are written by experts in a particular field and serve to keep others interested in that field up to date on the most recent research, findings, and news. Many scholarly articles and books undergo a process called peer-review, but not all do (see more information about this below). Why should I use scholarly sources? Scholarly sources' authorty and credibility can improve the quality of your own paper or research project.

How do you know if you've found a scholarly source? If you found a source through a web search, you need to determine if it is scholary. Even if you find a source in a library database, you may not be looking at a scholarly article or book, as some databases index many types of publications. Use the chart below to help you distinguish between scholarly and popular sources.

Characteristic Scholarly Popular
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

What's the difference between scholarly and peer-review? Not all scholarly articles are peer-review although many people use these terms interchangeably. What is peer-review? Peer review is an editorial process many scholarly journals (and books) use to ensure that the information published is high quality scholarship. Other scholars who are experts in their particular field evaluate the work as part of the overall body of research in a particular discipline. Then they make recommendations regarding its publication, suggest revisions prior to publication, or, in some cases, reject its publication. Because a peer-reviewed journal will not publish articles that fail to meet the standards established for a given discipline, published peer-reviewed articles exemplify the best research practices in a field.

 How Do I find Peer-Reviewed Articles & Books? Picture on the right hand side is a red and white search box. Here are a few ways: Use a library database to search for journal articles and books. Many databases have search filters that allow you to limit to peer-reviewed materials. The library search box on our homepage also has this filter! The best way to tell if a book is a scholarly source is to look at the publisher. If it was published by a university, it went through the same peer-review process as an article. There could be other book publishers that have peer-review so if you are unsure it is best to Google the publisher’s name. If a database does not provide a peer-reviewed articles filter you can search for the journal by name in Journals search tab to see if it is peer-reviewed or Google the journal name and look at their webpage to learn more about their editorial process. Ask a Librarian if you need help!



Find Peer-Reviewed Articles Library Tutorial

Look up journal names in the Serials Directory 

Ask a Librarian for help locating and evaluating sources