I have been doing instruction sessions this week for English 1101 and 1102 classes, and often the instructors want students to find a scholarly source. How do students know their source is scholarly? Here are some suggestions to help guide students. Look at the author, the publisher, the content of the book or article, and the type of publication. First look at the author’s affiliation. Does the author work at a research university or institution or is the author a journalist for a popular magazine? Is the publisher of the book or article a university press like Cambridge University Press or the Hearst Corporation which publishes magazines. Now look at the content of the book or article. Does the book or article give a list of cited sources or bibliography, or have an index? What is the subject matter of the book or article? Is it a “how-to” or an academic study with a method, participants, and a conclusion? Was the article published in a magazine, newspaper, or journal?
Now that you know what to look for, how do you find those scholarly journal articles? Many databases provide a way to limit your search to peer reviewed articles (these articles were sent to experts in the field for review before they were published) such as Academic Search Complete or Research Library. Also many subject databases often contain mainly peer reviewed articles. Some examples are Sociological Abstracts, MLA International Bibliography, or America History & Life. You can find scholarly articles in the above mentioned databases through the library’s Find Articles page or by going to GALILEO. You might want to also try one of the library’s Research Guides in your subject area. These guides list many resources including scholarly databases. Want to know more? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org .