What is a Scholarly Source? Examples, Resources and More (2023)

By Laurie Davies

January 26, 2022 • 6 Minutes

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At a glance

  • A scholarly source discusses research in a particular academic, clinical or scientific field.
  • Using scholarly sources lends credibility, authority and impartiality to your research.
  • A process called peer review is considered the gold standard in scholarly or academic sources.
  • At University of Phoenix, the Research Center Enterprise helms multidisciplinary research in areas such as leadership, workplace diversity and other real-world issues.

Whether you’re working on a college paper, a corporate annual report or a blog post, your credibility can hinge on the sources you choose to research and substantiate your claims. There’s a big jump from a Twitter thread to a scholarly source.

What makes a source scholarly? Read on to learn how to tell if a source is scholarly. Plus, learn how to find these sources, discover why you’d use them, and hear from academics who have written them.

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What is a scholarly journal?

A scholarly journal — also sometimes called a scholarly source or an academic journal — presents and discusses research in a particular academic, clinical or scientific field.

Examples of scholarly sources are:

  • Journals
  • Books
  • Conference presentations
  • Video lectures

“When I think of scholarly material, I think it’s essentially written by scholars for scholars,” says Shawn Boone, EdD, associate dean of research at the College of Doctoral Studies at University of Phoenix (UOPX).

There you have it! Scholarly sources defined.

But wait. Finding trusted and quality sources can be intimidating. Don’t worry. A University of Phoenix faculty member who writes scholarly articles offers hacks for how students and non-scholars can make journals work for them.

First, however, another definition is needed.

What is a peer-reviewed source?

Often scholarly journals are peer-reviewed. A peer-reviewed source is one that’s been vetted (reviewed) by other experts (peers) in the field.

Peer-reviewed journals are also sometimes called refereed journals. In this case the “referees” are reviewers who are tasked with filtering out poor quality, flawed methodology and a lack of rigor.

According to Wiley, a publisher of peer-reviewed journals, the peer review process is designed to assess the validity, quality and originality of articles for publication.

Boone, who has both published scholarly articles and served as a peer reviewer, looks for these criteria when he’s reviewing:

  • Rigor in design strategy
  • Continuity of theory
  • Absence of confirmation bias
  • Credibility
  • Validity
  • Writing quality

The process of peer review is not without criticism, namely that peer reviewers sometimes reject innovative ideas, thus potentially leading to conformity of thought. Plus, in the case of something new like COVID-19, researchers are tasked with building the plane while they’re flying it — conducting research on a phenomenon about which little is known.

Despite flaws, peer-reviewed publications are widely considered the gold standard among scholarly sources.

Examples of peer-reviewed sources are:

Ready to dive into the world of research through a doctoral program? Here are five things to know before you start.

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Why use scholarly sources?

Credibility: If you’re a student writing a research paper, scholarly sources help establish credibility.

Authority: A scholarly source can lend more authority than a news report or book. While a journalist or author might interview experts, a scholarly source actually is an expert.

Impartiality: A scholarly source offers findings that have been authenticated and should be free of confirmation bias.

This latter point is critical, says Rodney Luster, PhD, a widely published researcher, a regular contributor to Psychology Today, and chair of the Center for Leadership Studies and Organizational Research at UOPX.

“We’re all passionate about the things we want to write about,” Luster says. “If we’re not careful, confirmation bias — interpreting new findings as confirmation of our beliefs — can creep in.”

True scholarly sources don’t allow this to happen.

How to use scholarly sources

So, maybe you’re convinced. Scholarly sources are the way to go next time you’ve got a research-based project to submit.

But how in the world do you cite them? After all, if you’re like most people, terms like regression analysis, research methodology and theoretical constructs are enough to make the eyes glaze over.

Luster has good news. Three basic components of scholarly research may offer the takeaways you’ll need to effectively (and intelligently!) cite scholarly sources:

  • The title. Often the major finding or idea is expressed here.
  • The abstract. A summary of the research, an abstract conveys the starting point, what researchers were looking for and what they concluded.
  • The conclusion. The researchers explain what they found, perhaps even telling the industry what needs to happen (e.g., action or more research).

How to tell if a source is scholarly

If you’re wondering how to tell if a source is scholarly, these characteristics are shared by scholarly references:

  • The source informs or reports on research or ideas (rather than attempting to sway opinion or entice the reader to purchase a product).
  • Authors are clearly identified, and they have authority or expertise in their field.
  • Sources are always cited, usually in an extensive bibliography.
  • Methodology is outlined.

It’s important to note that not all journals are scholarly. Some are “predatory,” meaning they require authors to “pay to play” — they charge a fee for authors to have their research published. Avoid these. You can spot them by looking for the publication’s submission requirements.

(Note: “Pay for play” is different from an “open-access” article, which is when the author pays a fee to allow the article to be accessible to the public rather than accessible by subscription only.)

Most scholarly sources offer clues about their validity. Look for these criteria:

  • The masthead or journal description says “peer-reviewed.”
  • Journals request three copies of submissions (likely to go to peer reviewers).
  • Researchers in that field write the articles.
  • References are clearly listed in a bibliography.
  • Journal articles generally follow this format: abstract, literature review, methodology, results, conclusion, references.
  • There’s no advertising.

Examples of scholarly sources

(Video) How to Read a Scholarly Article - 11/17/22

With scholarly source websites, it’s easier now than ever before to find the research you need to support your project.

Google Scholar is a powerful resource for finding scholarly sources in your area of interest. Enter “headaches,” and 824,000 articles will appear in 0.03 seconds. (That actually kind of triggers a headache, doesn’t it?)

If you’re a student looking to write a well-informed paper sourced by experts, other tools can help. Here are some ideas:

  • Check the bibliographies of books or articles in your area of interest.
  • Search digital libraries and publishers, such as JStor, ProQuest, Emerald and Wiley.
  • Check the University of Phoenix Research Hub, which lists peer-reviewed journals and publishers in education.
  • Explore links to a growing body of research produced by UOPX scholars from the Center for Leadership Studies and Organizational Research, the Center for Educational and Instructional Technology and the Center for Workplace Diversity and Inclusion.

Frequently asked questions about academic sources

What is a scholarly source?

A scholarly source presents and discusses research in a particular academic, clinical or scientific field. It does not attempt to persuade to an opinion, and it does not encourage readers to purchase a product.

What is a scholarly journal?

A scholarly journal publishes scholarship related to a particular field (e.g., medicine) or academic discipline (e.g., leadership studies). Peer-reviewed scholarly journals provide extra scrutiny of articles for quality and validity.

Is .org a scholarly source?

No. Often websites ending in .org may be credible. Generally, however, .org sites are nonprofit entities with a specific mission. Nonprofit entities with a .org domain might lead you to scholarly sources if they cite studies with a list of authors.

No. NPR and other news agencies report the news, sometimes with bias. They may interview experts, but a true scholarly source will be written by an expert.

How do I use scholarly sources?

Scholarly sources are generally written for other scholars, but don’t let that deter you from mining them and citing them. The abstract and conclusion sections may lend solid information to your project.

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University of Phoenix offers a workshop called Dissertation to Publication for students interested in publishing their doctoral dissertation in a peer-reviewed journal. Learn more.

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FAQs

What is an example of a scholarly source? ›

Examples of scholarly sources are: Journals. Books. Conference presentations.

What is a scholarly resource? ›

Scholarly sources are written by academics and other experts and contribute to knowledge in a particular field by sharing new research findings, theories, analyses, insights, news, or summaries of current knowledge. Scholarly sources can be either primary or secondary research.

What is an example of a popular source and an example of a scholarly source? ›

Scholarly and Popular Sources
Scholarly
Authors:Experts such as scientists, faculty, and historians
Examples:Journal of Asian History, New England Journal of Medicine, Chemical Reviews, Educational Psychologist; books from University presses such as Oxford University Press and the University of California Press
8 more rows
19 Sept 2022

What are 5 characteristics of a scholarly source? ›

Characteristics of Scholarly Sources
  • Have a serious appearance.
  • The words "Journal," "Transactions," "Proceedings," or "Quarterly," may appear in the title.
  • Written for professors, students or researchers.
  • Signed by the authors.
  • Articles are reviewed by a board of experts or "peer reviewers."

What are the 5 example of source? ›

Examples of primary sources:

Theses, dissertations, scholarly journal articles (research based), some government reports, symposia and conference proceedings, original artwork, poems, photographs, speeches, letters, memos, personal narratives, diaries, interviews, autobiographies, and correspondence.

What are the 3 types of scholarly articles? ›

These types include: Literature Reviews. Research Articles (aka Empirical Articles) Case Studies.

How do you identify scholarly resources? ›

The term scholarly typically means that the source has been “peer-reviewed,” which is a lengthy editing and review process performed by scholars in the field to check for quality and validity. To determine if your source has been peer-reviewed, you can investigate the journal in which the article was published.

What are popular resources? ›

A popular resource is one that is written for the general public. Your local newspaper is a popular resource. Scholarly Journals. Popular Magazines.

How do you find scholarly resources? ›

Finding Scholarly Articles
  1. Look for publications from a professional organization.
  2. Use databases such as JSTOR that contain only scholarly sources.
  3. Use databases such as Academic Search Complete or other EBSCO databases that allow you to choose "peer-reviewed journals".

Can you give examples of popular resources? ›

Popular (also called non-scholarly) sources inform and entertain the public or allow practitioners to share industry, practice, and production information Examples: Newspapers, magazines, trade journals, popular books.

What are examples of good sources? ›

Credible sources include peer-reviewed journals, government agencies, research think tanks, and professional organizations. Major newspapers and magazines also provide reliable information thanks to their high publishing standards. Reputable news sources require all content to be fact-checked before publication.

Is a newspaper a scholarly source? ›

Newspapers are not scholarly sources, but some would not properly be termed popular, either. Every source must be questioned for its stake in the material.

What are the 10 types of sources? ›

10.3: Types of Sources
  • books and encyclopedias.
  • websites, web pages, and blogs.
  • magazine, journal, and newspaper articles.
  • research reports and conference papers.
  • interviews and surveys.
  • photographs, paintings, cartoons, and other art works.
  • TV and radio programs, podcasts, movies, and videos.

What are the 8 types of sources? ›

Types of Sources
  • Scholarly publications (Journals)
  • Popular sources (News and Magazines)
  • Professional/Trade sources.
  • Books / Book Chapters.
  • Conference proceedings.
  • Government Documents.
  • Theses & Dissertations.
5 May 2022

What are the 4 types of sources? ›

Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Sources
  • Primary Sources.
  • Secondary Sources.
  • Tertiary Sources.
  • Primary and Secondary Sources in Law.
10 Nov 2020

What are the 3 example of source? ›

Defining Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Sources
  • Original Documents: diaries, speeches, letters, interview transcripts, news footage, autobiographies, reports, census records, data from an experiment.
  • Creative Works: poetry, plays, novels, music scores, films, paintings.
  • Objects: clothing, buildings, tools, furniture.
5 Aug 2022

What are the 2 types of sources? ›

The two kinds of sources

There are two kinds of sources: primary and secondary. The main difference between a primary and a secondary source is when they were made. In order to determine whether a particular sources is a primary or secondary source, you need to discover its time of creation.

What are 5 differences between popular and scholarly sources? ›

Popular vs. Scholarly
POPULARSCHOLARLY
Articles rarely contain references or footnotes and follow no specific formatWell-researched, documented articles nearly always follow standard format: abstract, introduction, literature review, methodology, results, conclusion, bibliography/references
9 more rows
9 Mar 2022

What are two main types of scholarly books? ›

These formats depend on the research field and the individual preferences of the journal. The two main types of literature, primary and secondary literature, refer to an author's original research and research conducted on other published works, respectively.

Why do we use scholarly sources? ›

Scholarly sources are not meant to entertain. Their purpose is to inform and to advance their academic field. Scholarly sources are generally found in discipline-specific journals or published by academic presses, such as The Journal of Educational Behavior or Columbia University Press.

What is mean by scholarly? ›

: of, characteristic of, or suitable to learned persons : learned, academic.

What is not a scholarly source? ›

Non-‐scholarly sources are generally written by non-‐experts or organizations with a stated or unstated bias. Non-‐scholarly publications are produced by commercial publishers, vanity presses, or other types of publishers. The intended audience of a non-‐scholarly publication is non-‐experts.

What are the 5 types of resources? ›

Types of Resources
  • 3.1 Biotic & Abiotic.
  • 3.2 Renewable & Non-renewable.
  • 3.3 Potential, Developed, and Stock Resources.

What are the 7 types of resources? ›

Seven types of resource management are: (1) Forest resource management (2) Water resource management (3) Mineral resource management (4) Land resource management (5) Energy resource management (6) Wildlife management (7) Agriculture resource management.

Is Wikipedia a scholarly source? ›

Most academics agree that you shouldn't cite Wikipedia as a source in your academic writing, and universities often have rules against doing so. This is partly because of concerns about its reliability, and partly because it's a tertiary source.

Where can I find free scholarly resources? ›

Google Scholar provides a search of scholarly literature across many disciplines and sources, including theses, books, abstracts and articles. However, not all content found in Scholar is free. When you find a non-free article, click the All x versions option, you might find free pre-published versions of the article.

What do scholarly articles contain? ›

Scholarly articles contain an abstract, a bibliography, and appendices (when necessary). The author's affiliation and publishing date are provided. Peer review. Note: even if an article is published in a scholarly journal, it hasn't necessarily been peer-reviewed.

What is an example of a popular source article? ›

Examples include general news, business and entertainment publications such as Time Magazine, Business Weekly, Vanity Fair. Note, special interest publications which are not specifically written for an academic audience are also considered "popular" i.e., National Geographic, Scientific American, Psychology Today.

What are 5 reliable sources what makes a source credible? ›

It is important to be able to identify which sources are credible. This ability requires an understanding of depth, objectivity, currency, authority, and purpose. Whether or not your source is peer-reviewed, it is still a good idea to evaluate it based on these five factors.

What are 3 Reliable Sources? ›

What is reliable information?
  • Scholarly, peer-reviewed articles and books.
  • Trade or professional articles or books.
  • Magazine articles, books and newspaper articles from well-established companies.

Are all books scholarly sources? ›

Books usually count as academic sources, but it depends on what kind of book. Textbooks, encyclopedias, and books published for commercial audiences often do not count as academic. Consider these questions when you're deciding if a book is academic or not: Who is the author?

Is a blog a scholarly source? ›

In general, blogs should not be considered a reliable scholarly source. While some of them are written by real experts and can be great sources for some topics, many are strongly opinionated and can lack the professionalism expected in a scholarly source.

What is a list of source? ›

Many documentation styles pair in-text citations with a detailed list of sources, called references in APA and works cited in MLA, that provides enough information for readers to find the sources themselves.

What are the 3 types of sources for research? ›

Primary sources are original works, secondary sources are analyses of those original works, and tertiary sources are collections of secondary source information. Academic, scientific, and business professionals use all three types of sources, as appropriate.

What is a list of all sources used? ›

A bibliography is a listing of all the sources you consulted in writing your research paper.

What are the 6 primary sources? ›

Types of Primary Sources
  • Census records.
  • Church or Synagogue records.
  • Divorce records.
  • Education records.
  • Land and Title records.
  • Military records.
4 Nov 2022

What are the 6 types of primary sources? ›

chronicles or historical accounts. essays and speeches. memoirs, diaries, and letters.
...
Types of Primary Sources
  • novels, plays, poems (both published and in manuscript form)
  • television shows, movies, or videos.
  • paintings or photographs.
11 May 2021

What are the 5 sources of history? ›

10 Examples of Historical Sources
  • Letters.
  • Diaries.
  • Newspaper reports.
  • Original photographs.
  • Recordings or transcripts of speeches.
  • Plays.
  • Paintings.
  • Oral histories.

What are 4 credible sources? ›

What are credible sources?
  • Fact checking.
  • Sources for different purposes.
  • Dictionaries & encyclopedias.
  • Books vs scholarly books.
  • Types of journals. Peer-reviewed journals.
  • Websites.
  • News and media.
18 Jul 2022

What are the 4 sources of research topics? ›

Common Places to Find Research

Your research resources can come from your personal experiences; print media such as books, brochures, journals, magazines, and newspapers; and electronic sources found on the Internet. They may also come from interviews and surveys you or someone else conduct.

What are the 2 main sources of history? ›

Examples of primary sources include: personal journals/diaries/memoirs, letters, court proceedings, legislative debates, newspaper and magazine articles, movies, music, art, etc. Secondary Sources (i.e., historiography) – Books and articles produced by historians.

How do you identify a scholarly source? ›

The following characteristics can help you determine if the article you're looking at is scholarly:
  1. Author(s) name included. ...
  2. Technical or specialized language. ...
  3. Written for professionals. ...
  4. Charts, graphs, and diagrams. ...
  5. Long ( 5 or more pages) ...
  6. Bibliography included.

How do you know if a source is scholarly? ›

The term scholarly typically means that the source has been “peer-reviewed,” which is a lengthy editing and review process performed by scholars in the field to check for quality and validity. To determine if your source has been peer-reviewed, you can investigate the journal in which the article was published.

What is a popular scholarly source? ›

Academic Materials. A scholarly (or academic) resource is one that is written by experts in the field for experts in the field. A popular resource is one that is written for the general public. Your local newspaper is a popular resource.

Which is not an example of a scholarly source? ›

Non scholarly sources inform and entertain the public (e.g. popular sources such as newspapers, magazines) or allow practitioners to share industry, practice, and production information (e.g. trade sources such as non-refereed journals published for people working in the teaching profession).

What are three ways to find scholarly sources? ›

Finding Scholarly Articles
  1. Look for publications from a professional organization.
  2. Use databases such as JSTOR that contain only scholarly sources.
  3. Use databases such as Academic Search Complete or other EBSCO databases that allow you to choose "peer-reviewed journals".

Is a book a scholarly source? ›

Books usually count as academic sources, but it depends on what kind of book. Textbooks, encyclopedias, and books published for commercial audiences often do not count as academic. Consider these questions when you're deciding if a book is academic or not: Who is the author?

What makes a source credible or scholarly? ›

A credible source is free from bias and backed up with evidence. It is written by a trustworthy author or organization.

What makes a source credible and scholarly? ›

It is important to be able to identify which sources are credible. This ability requires an understanding of depth, objectivity, currency, authority, and purpose. Whether or not your source is peer-reviewed, it is still a good idea to evaluate it based on these five factors.

Is Google a scholarly source? ›

⚽ Is Google Scholar an academic source? No. Google Scholar is an academic search engine, but the records found in Google Scholar are academic sources.

What are good scholarly sites? ›

The 10 Best Academic Research Sources
  • Google Scholar.
  • JSTOR.
  • Library of Congress.
  • PubMed Central.
  • Google Books.
  • Science.gov.
  • Digital Commons Network.
  • ResearchGate.
19 Jul 2022

What kind of websites are scholarly sources? ›

Websites produced by government departments, representing industry bodies, universities or research centers often contain useful information such as statistics, policies, reports and case studies and are considered scholarly.

What are examples of scholarly activities? ›

Examples include conducting clinical intervention studies, program management, developing grant proposals, providing technical assistance, shaping public policy, editing journals, consulting, and writing or performing for the media.

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