What is a scholarly source?
Scholarly sources are written by experts in a particular field or area of study (discipline). These sources are used by others in the same discipline to stay informed and up to date on the most recent research, research findings, and news in that discipline. You might also hear scholarly sources referred to as peer-reviewed, edited, or refereed.
Why use scholarly sources?
Using scholarly sources is an expected part of your academic course work because these sources are credible and authoritative; they are written by academically recognized experts. These types of sources will help you produce quality papers and presentations.
You are now a part of the scholarly community and need to join the scholarly conversation. Here is how it works and why these sources are important:
Creating Pathways to Discovery
Creation of New Knowledge
How can I tell if a source is scholarly?
Scholarly sources have particular characteristics as follows:
Here are some helpful characteristics to look for in books to determine academic quality:
Book publishers - What do you know about the publisher? Is the publisher known for publishing books used by scholars? University presses (Oxford University Press, University of California, etc.) publish scholarly and well-researched titles. If you don't know, look up the publisher's web site and see if you can determine the nature of the books published by them.
Footnotes and Bibliographies - Does the book include footnotes or in-text citations? Does the book include a Bibliography (also known as References or Works Cited)? These are characteristics of scholarly books as well as journal articles.
Edited material - Was the book assembled by one or more editors with contributions from other authors? Editors act as a review committee and make sure the contributors are factual and accurate. An editorial note is likely to be found in the introduction to the book if the material is controversial, theoretical, or still under investigation.
Books in a university library collection - Books in university libraries are generally purchased with the goal of supporting classes and research at that institution. Librarians work with faculty and professional resources to select the best from the thousands of books, journals and electronic resources published every year. This gets rid of a large amount of junk or lesser-quality materials in order to bring you the best. This is a more focused and evaluated collection that jumping into the Internet, so why not start with your library catalog for resources?