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Journals & Periodicals: Identifying Scholarly Sources

Learn how to distinguish between the 3 major categories of information sources: scholarly, popular, and trade.

Scholarly Sources: What To Know

Illustration representing a subset. A turqouise square has a smaller green square inside it.All scholarly sources are good; not all good sources are scholarly.

A New York Times article or government statistics are (probably) great, wonderful, reliable sources, full of credibility and accuracy and just the kinds of information you should trust.

They are not, however, "scholarly."

Levels of quality in information: scholarly is a much smaller segment than generally good information, which of course is a smaller segment than information in general.Scholarly is a very specific type of good, credible, reliable information source.

Scholarly sources are written by formally trained and educated experts in a field. They tend to provide an in-depth look at a very specific topic (as opposed to an overview or summary) and always have lots of sources cited to back them up. They are published by professional or academic organizations.

Some even go through a peer-review process before publication, through which other experts critically evaluate the content and evidence of an article.

 

What is "peer-review"?

Peer Review in a Nutshell

Video created by North Carolina State University Libraries

Used by permission of the Creative Commons License.

Simplified illustration of the peer-review cycle, from original research, to submission, to a peer-review panel, and then to either publication or revision