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
- 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
- has been rigorously reviewed by other experts in that same field, and
- 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)
- Scholarly sources contain Literature Reviews, which help to contextualize the author’s research. For more information on Literature Reviews, see the chapter on Synthesis and Literature Reviews
- 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.