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Scholarly, Peer Reviewed, and Other Credible Sources

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What is it?


Best used for


A source written by scholars or academics in a field. The purpose of many scholarly sources is to report on original research or experimentation in order to make such information available to the rest of the scholarly community. The audience for scholarly sources is other scholars or experts in a field. Scholarly sources include references and usually use language that is technical or at a high reading level.

*Note: Different databases may define “scholarly” in slightly different ways, and thus a source that is considered “scholarly” in one database may not be considered “scholarly” in another database. The final decision about the appropriateness of a given source for a particular assignment is left to the instructor.

Scholarly Journals

· Journal of Management Information Systems

· American Journal of Public Health

· Early Childhood Research Quarterly

Scholarly Books (published by a university press or other high-quality publisher)

· Shari’a Politics: Islamic Law and Society in the Modern World

· The Grand Design: Strategy and the U.S. Civil War

· The Hidden Mechanics of Exercise: Molecules That Move Us

Journal articles:

· Recent research on a topic

· Very specific topics or narrow fields of research

· NOT good for an introduction to or broad overview of a topic


· In-depth information and research on a topic

· Putting a topic into context

· Historical information on a topic

Peer Reviewed

A publication that has gone through an official editorial process that involves review and approval by the author’s peers (experts in the same subject area). Many (but not all) scholarly publications are peer reviewed.

*Note: even though a journal is peer reviewed, some types of articles within that journal may not be peer reviewed. These might include editorials or book reviews.

**Note: some publications (such as some trade journals) can be peer reviewed but not scholarly. This is not common.

See “Scholarly Journals” above

Books go through a different editorial process and are not usually considered to be “peer reviewed”. However, they can still be excellent scholarly sources.

See above


A source that can be trusted to contain accurate information that is backed up by evidence or can be verified in other trusted sources. Many types of sources can fall into this category.

*Note: The final decision about the appropriateness of a given source for a particular assignment is left to the instructor.

See above. Also:

· Newspapers

· Magazines

· Books

· Trade journals or publications

· Government websites

· Websites from educational institutions (like universities)

· Websites or other publications from reputable organizations (like the Mayo Clinic)

· Encyclopedias (general or subject)

Many websites could be considered credible. The more information provided about the source, the more likely they are to be credible. Look for information about the author and/or the organization, how recently it was published, the intended audience, the intended purpose, and whether there is evidence of bias.

· Basic/general/background information about a topic

· Current events

· Local news

· Statistical data

· Information about specific organizations or companies (look at the organization’s or company’s website, or look for articles in newspapers or trade journals)

· Government information

· Information about popular culture

· Opinions or commentaries

· Topics of general interest

Ashford University Library, June 2015, CR 0130415

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