Sources of information can range from being not scholarly, to very scholarly, to somewhere in the middle. Each source will go somewhere on this scale:
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e.g., childrens' books
Sources that are not as scholarly, but
still credible, include popular periodicals
such as magazines and newspapers.
| Most Scholarly
Scholarly sources typically
include academic journal articles.
.Where on the scholarly scale does your source fall?
To make your determination, here are six things to consider:
Author credentials can be:
Most scholarly - expert with advanced degree (e.g., Ph.D., M.D., J.D.) in relevant subject
Mid-level - journalist, some academic credentials (e.g., B.A., B.S., M.A.) in relevant subject
Least scholarly - no credentials, no academic degree or experience in the subject
The target audience can be:
Most scholarly - other experts, professionals, or scholars in that subject area
Mid-level - general public
Least scholarly - general public, elementary, middle school students
References can be:
Most scholarly - extensive list of scholarly sources
Mid-level - list of credible/reliable sources; sources mentioned in the text
Low-level - no references
The publisher can be:
Most scholarly - a university, professional, or academic press; for example: Oxford University Press, American Psychological Association, Elsevier
Mid-level - reputable book publisher, magazine, or newspaper
Least scholarly - self-published/vanity press
Learn about publishers by visiting their websites and looking in the "About" section.
Editing and review can be:
Most Scholarly - the author's peers (experts in a subject area) critically evaluate all aspects of the work; this is called Peer Review. It can also be called Refereed.
Mid-level - Substantive editing, for content, structure
Low-level - proofreading or copy editing for grammar, spelling, and capitalization
Least Scholarly - no editing or review
The purpose can be:
Most scholarly - to inform or educate about a specific topic or to describe a research study; should be objective (it may support a particular side, but with documentation and fair consideration of the other side)
Mid-level - to inform or educate about a topic, event, or issue; might be biased
Least scholarly - to entertain, to sell you something; might be biased
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There are many sources of information -- websites, books, magazines, journals, newspapers, friends -- and which sources you use depends on your needs.
For your college research needs, your sources need to be reliable and credible. Credible and reliable sources can be either more scholarly or more popular:
Sources that are more scholarly, such as academic journal articles, are considered more scholarly due to the expertise of the authors, advanced vocabulary and concepts, and the rigorous review and editing process.
Sources that are more popular, such as magazine and newspaper articles, can also be reliable and appropriate (perhaps for a brief speech or short paper), though you may find more opinions there. They also do not discuss a topic in as much depth as a more scholarly source would.
A NOVA research guide that includes an evaluation form and suggestions for evaluating a source's author, audience, purpose, etc.