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Scholarly Sources

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About this guide

This guide will help you understand what scholarly sources are, distinguish them from non-scholarly sources, and recognize the importance of peer-review.

Terms to Know

  • Scholarly sources: publications intended for an academic audience
  • Peer-review: a formal process in which works are evaluated by fellow experts in a field prior to publication

What are some characteristics of scholarly sources?

Scholarly sources generally share the following characteristics:

To advance knowledge in a field of study, often in the form of original research or analysis

Journal articles, books, book chapters; usually 5 pages or longer

Experts in the field, such as professors, scientists, etc.

Text-heavy, with advanced language and terminology from the discipline

Includes citations and a bibliography, works cited, or references list

Why should I use scholarly sources?

Many research assignments will require you to use scholarly sources, but that's not the only reason to use them. Reading and referencing scholarly sources can enhance the quality of your paper.

Incorporating their work into your writing through references and quotations adds weight to your argument and demonstrates that you are familiar with the topic (Murray & Hughes, 2008; Wang & Park, 2016).


Murray, N., and Hughes, G. (2008). Writing up your university assignment and research projects: A practical handbook. Retrieved from

Wang, G. T., & Park, K. (2016). Student research and report writing: From topic selection to the complete paper. Retrieved from