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Intro to Library Research: Is it Scholarly?

This guide is a starting point for doing research at Wardman Library, finding and evaluating scholarly resources, and getting additional writing help.

What Makes Something Scholarly?

The easy answer to "What makes something scholarly?" is "something written by scholars, for scholars." However, the reality is more complicated than that.

For journals, an article that goes through a "peer review" process can be considered scholarly. Many databases, like Academic OneFile, will tell you whether an article is peer-reviewed. You can also take a look at a journal's editorial page to find out if it is peer-reviewed.

For books, look for key indicators like whether the author is affiliated with a university/college or whether the book is published by an academic press.

Characteristics of Scholarly Resources

Scholary works (especially articles) can be easy to identify. Look for some of the following characteristics:

  • Authors are experts/scholars
  • Work is peer-reviewed
  • Written for scholars/researchers
  • Goal is to inform
  • Presents original research
  • Sources cited in bibliography
  • Vocab is complex, technical
  • Graphics used to inform (not entertain)
  • Title is informative of content
  • (For journals) Published monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, or annually

For additional information, check out NCSU's Anatomy of a Scholarly Article.

When in Doubt...

If you are not sure whether something is scholarly, ask a librarian or check with your professor.

Scholarly vs. Popular Periodicals

Know the Difference Between Popular and Scholarly Resources

Click on the green center arrow below to begin the tutorial. (text version | more info)

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