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Home » What Is a Scholarly Source? Definition, Examples, and How to Find

What Is a Scholarly Source? Definition, Examples, and How to Find

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As a college student, you will be expected to use scholarly sources in your writing. But what exactly is a scholarly source? In this article, we will give you a definition of scholarly sources and provide some examples. We will also explain why they are important in academic writing and show you how to find them.

Defining a Scholarly Source

A scholarly source is a type of academic or research-based writing that aims to further the understanding of a particular topic. These sources are usually peer-reviewed, meaning that they have been evaluated and approved by other experts in the field before being published.

Examples of scholarly sources include academic journal articles, book chapters, and dissertations.

How to Find Scholarly Sources?

Academic Databases

The best way to find scholarly sources is to search in academic databases. Many colleges and universities offer access to these databases, which can be searched by keyword or subject. Some of the most popular academic databases are JSTOR, ProQuest, and EBSCOhost.

Google Scholar is one of the most popular search engines for finding scholarly journals and other scholarly literature. It can be accessed for free and searches across a variety of disciplines and academic journals. You can see if the article is free if there is a html., pdf. or docx. link on the right.

Other Search Methods

You can also use Google search to find a publication you need. In fact, in some cases usual Google search works better than Google Scholar.

For instance, if you are having trouble finding full-text publications, try searching for the title of the article on Google. Sometimes the full text will be available on the website of the journal itself or on a personal website.

Try to use different combinations of keywords, database names, and subject terms to find relevant resources.

It is also a good idea to check the reference lists of other scholarly articles on your topic to find more sources. These lists are usually located at the end of the article.

Check the bibliography on the reference page of the literature review article related to your discipline.

Another way to find scholarly sources is to look for open-access journals. These are journals that make their content freely available online. Many of these journals are published by academic institutions or professional organizations.

Students can also ask their professor or a librarian in the university library for help. They will be able to point you in the right direction and help you find the resources you need.

Examples of Scholarly Sources

Scholarly Journals

Scholarly or academic journals are journals that publish research articles written by experts. They don’t usually target a broad audience but rather provide valuable information to the intended audience, which is mainly composed of other scholars or students.

These articles undergo a peer-review, which means they are evaluated and approved by other experts (a review board) in the field before being published. Some examples of scholarly journals include JAMA, The Lancet, and PNAS. Peer-reviewed journals are related to a particular discipline or field of interest.

Some scholarly search engines focus on searching scholarly materials in a particular field. For instance, PubMed is used to find biomedical peer-reviewed articles.

Peer-reviewed journals are usually more credible because the articles have been vetted by experts. However, this does not mean that all peer-reviewed articles are 100% accurate or free from bias.

Scholarly Articles

Scholarly articles published in scholarly journals have a specific structure. They usually include:

  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Literature Review
  • Methods
  • Results
  • Findings/Discussion
  • References

Here is an example of an article published in a peer-reviewed journal


Books can also be considered scholarly sources if they are written by experts on a particular topic and are aimed at furthering the understanding of that topic. These books often peer-reviewed before being published.

However, not all books are considered scholarly sources. For example, textbooks are usually not considered scholarly sources because they are written to provide an overview of a subject and are not aimed at furthering the understanding of that subject.

Scholarly Books Characteristics

Some characteristics of scholarly books include:

They are usually written by experts or scholars in a particular field.

They are usually aimed at furthering the understanding of a particular topic.

They are often peer-reviewed before being published.

They usually have a bibliography or list of references.

They are usually published by academic presses or professional organizations.

Here is an example of a scholarly book:


A dissertation is a long research paper written by a doctoral student. Dissertations are usually considered scholarly sources because they are written by experts on a particular topic and aim to further the understanding of that topic.

Other Scholarly Materials

Other examples of scholarly materials include conference proceedings, reports from government agencies, and white papers.

Scholarly sources can take many different forms. The important thing to remember is that they are all based on research and aim to further our understanding of a topic.

How to Know What Scholarly Journal Is Better?

There are a few ways you can tell if a scholarly journal is reputable. One way is to look at the impact factor. The impact factor is a measure of how often an average article in a journal has been cited in other articles. Journals with a higher impact factor are generally considered to be more reputable.

Another way to tell if a journal is reputable is to look at the peer-review process. This is the process used in scholarly research to ensure that the research being published is of high quality.

Journals that have a strict peer-review process are usually considered to be more reputable.

Why Are Scholarly Sources Important In Academic Writing?

Improve Quality of Yor Writing

The quality of your scholarly writing directly depends on your ability to incorporate scholarly material and evaluate and cite sources. Academic writing style is characterized by its use of formal language, its focus on objectivity, and objectivity can be achieved only when you cite other researchers and journal articles. Hence, it is highly important to use the right tone while you write, as well as to read and cite other sources.

Provide Knowledge and Develop Critical Thinking

Academic sources are important because they provide us with new knowledge and ideas. They help us to better understand the world around us and make new discoveries. Furthermore, they help students to develop critical thinking. Without scholarly sources, we would be stuck with the same old information.

Source of Credible and Accurate Information

When you read a scholarly source, you can be confident that it is accurate and has been vetted by experts. This is not always the case with other types of sources, such as popular magazines or websites.

Academic sources are important because they give your writing credibility. When you refer to scholarly publications in your writing, it shows that you have done your research and that you are knowledgeable about the topic. This can make a big difference in the grading of your paper or the outcome of your research project.

As you can see, determining if a certain source is scholarly or not is not a difficult task. By keeping the characteristics of scholarly sources in mind, you will be able to quickly and easily identify them. And by using them in your academic writing, you will be able to write with confidence.

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