Scholarly/academic/peer-reviewed sources are sources written by experts and are reviewed by experts in the field before the article is published.
You may consider scholars with subject expertise have authority in the area of your research topic and thus produce only good sources. However, like all types of sources and authorities, scholarly sources vary a lot by date, scope, method, and etc, making only some of them appropriate to cite in your research. Scholarly sources may have totally valid evidence but not so relevant to your research.
Finding a good scholarly source to use can sometimes be a messy process, but below are some questions you can ask yourself in order to determine if the academic article is worth using in your research.
Internet resources can be even more challenging to evaluate because dates and authors are not always readily available. Plus, we all know that anyone can create a website. The following are some important things to consider when reviewing internet sources.
Websites do not always have authors so you'll need to find information on who or what organization is responsible for creating and updating the webpage. The following are links to look for on webpages that should provide more information on who is behind the website.
Finding the date a website was created or last updated can be difficult sometimes. If you can't find a date on a particular webpage, click around and look at the other resources on their website, can you find a date anywhere? Are there links to other sources that are out of date or dead links?
The following is a list of the most popular domain extensions, which can be used to help determine authority and objectivity. However, domain extensions alone cannot determine if a web source is quality or if it's right for your research.
.gov - Government. The intent of the site is to present official information collected by or about the workings of a government.
.edu - Educational institution. The intent of the site is to educate as well as present information collected by or about the educational institution. *Look out for student work or papers that haven't been published in an authoritative source.
.com - Commercial. The intent of the site is to sell goods or services, as well as provide information about the company.
.org - Organization, usually non-profit. The intent of the site is to present information collected by or about the organization. Sometimes, the intent of the site is to promote a particular point of view. *For more information about the organization check out Idealist.org.
.net - Network, usually personal Web pages. The intent of the site is as varied as the individual(s) responsible for the content. *Usually not scholarly in nature, so if it is a personal page then make sure you research who that person is and what their qualifications are.
A more complete list of top-level domains is also available.
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