This page is a starting point for understanding and evaluating sources of information. It provides a general overview, but more information is available on this page. Using databases and resources provided in this guide will help guide you to resources that a valid, reliable, and scholarly in nature. However, no matter what type of resource being used, it is important to consider the credibility and relevancy of the source before including it as a source of information or citation in your research
What Is a Scholarly Source?
Scholarly sources are works that contain well-sourced, original research and meet the established standards of their discipline. Generally, these sources:
Scholarly sources can appear in a variety of formats, but most often are found as books, book chapters, and journal articles.
There are several basic characteristics that can help determine if a resource is a scholarly source, this guide details those characteristics. Be sure to look at the criteria in each category when making a determination, rather than basing decisions on only one piece of information.
Also, consult the Finding Library Materials--Suggested Databases section of this guide to find peer-reviewed journal articles. But above all, please talk to a librarian and your professor if you have questions about citing a source as a scholarly source.
What is Peer-Reviewed Source?
"Peer review" is a key term to know when looking for scholarly sources: If a journal is "Peer reviewed," that means the articles published in that journal were reviewed by an anonymous panel of other scholars, and the panel objectively verified the high level of scholarship in the article.
Wikipedia makes certain efforts at reliability that search engines like Google do not, including its own system of peer-review. Still, Wikipedia has different priorities than an academic peer-reviewed resource, and therefore it shouldn't be used in place of an academic source. But perhaps most important is the fact that Wikipedia is an encyclopedia. Encyclopedias are general information sources best used for gaining a quick overview of a topic and finding a list of resources and topics to guide you in further exploration. Encyclopedia articles generally avoid controversy, and the low level of detail provided by an encyclopedia is not going to be sufficient for your academic work.