Scholarly sources (also referred to as academic, peer-reviewed, or refereed sources) are written by subject experts with systems in place to ensure the quality and accuracy of information.
Scholarly sources include books from academic publishers, peer-reviewed journal articles, and reports from research institutes.
What is peer review? When a source has been peer-reviewed, it has undergone the review and scrutiny of a review board of colleagues in the author’s field. They evaluate this source as part of the body of research for a particular discipline and make recommendations regarding its publication in a journal, revisions prior to publication, or, in some cases, reject its publication.
Scholarly sources often have a particular writing style and can be challenging to read compared to other types of sources. When reading scholarly literature, read strategically. Don't start by reading the article from start to finish but rather focus on the sections that will give you the information you need first. This will quickly let you know what the article is about and its relevancy for your research. It will also prepare you for when you’re ready to read the full article, giving you a mental map of its structure and purpose.
Here is a suggestion on how to read a scholarly article and which sections to focus on first.
There are several ways to determine whether an article qualifies as "scholarly" or "peer-reviewed". First it depends on how you found the source. If you are using library resources such as OneSearch or databases such as Academic Search Premier - you can limit the search to peer-reviewed journals. Many databases will have this feature to allow you to limit searches for scholarly, peer-reviewed, or academic sources.
Here are some qualities that set them apart from "popular" sources such as newspapers, magazines, etc.
Ulrich's Periodicals Directory (often referred to as UlrichsWeb) is a database that the University Library subscribes to. You may be told to "check Ulrich's," but what does that mean? Ulrich's will tell you if a journal is still in print, available online, where it is indexed, and most critically, what type of journal it is (scholarly, trade, popular, etc.). This is useful for students being asked to find specific types of sources.
Search using the name of the journal and then look for the black and white referee jacket. This indicates that the journals content is peer-reviewed.
Look for several things to determine if a book is scholarly:
The library subscribes to over 250 databases! You can browse databases by Subject Area and read the description for the different types of resources you can find searching that particular database. Otherwise, here are some general multisubject databases and a good place to get started.
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