Scholarly Sources

A Deeper Look at Scholarly Sources

Robin Jeffrey

Scholarly sources are different from what most of us read each day. We are constantly exposed to “popular” media – news websites, TV channels, magazines and newspapers. It is generally only in college that we get exposure  – and access  – to scholarly articles and books.

A scholarly source is any material that

  1. has been produced by an expert in his or her field (often this means people with Ph.D’s who work as researchers or professors at colleges or universities), and
  2. has been rigorously reviewed by other experts in that same field, and
  3. has been published for an audience also highly involved in that field (often other people who have Ph.D.s in the same academic discipline).

A source is said to be scholarly if the following are true:

  • The source is written with formal language
  • Information is presented in a formal, highly prescribed format (scholarly articles tend to follow a similar layout, pattern, and style)
  • The author(s) of the source have an academic background (scientist, professor, etc.).
  • The source includes a bibliography (also called Works Cited or, simply, References) documenting the works cited in the source
  • The source includes original work and analysis done by the author(s), rather than just summary of what others have already studied or written about
  • The source includes evidence from primary sources/one’s own primary research
  • The source includes a description of the author(s) methods of research.

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A Deeper Look at Scholarly Sources by Robin Jeffrey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.