Answered By: Betty Rugh
Last Updated: Oct 14, 2015     Views: 6

If you use the research databases the evaluation process is much simpler, as you can be assured that the content in the databases was deliberately selected to be included there in the first place. Some databases, like Academic Search Complete or others provided by EBSCOhost, have a checkbox to filter your results to "Scholarly (Peer-Reviewed) Articles." Others, like JSTOR, are exclusively scholarly in content.

When you're trying to decide whether a source is scholarly, consider:

  • Authority: is the author an expert in the field? Do they have at least a Masters degree?
  • Reliability: are references provided to support information given in the source? Are they referred to throughout the text of the document?
  • Style: is the source written in a very serious, dry, academic style? If any pictures are included, are they limited to charts and graphs?

Is the source you're considering a blog or website?

Then no, it's probably not scholarly.

Is it a news article from a trustworthy source like the New York Times?

Still not scholarly, though it is authoritative and pretty reliable.

Is your textbook scholarly?

Again, it's authoritative and pretty reliable, but your textbook is probably not actually a scholarly source.

I looked in JSTOR and found a Book Review. Does it count?

Not really. Book reviews are helpful for leading you to new sources (i.e. the book being reviewed) and can give you a sense of how a good source it is, but these do not make good sources in and of themselves.