Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Research Skills: A Blog Series from your ELI Library staff

Post 2) Scholarly vs. Popular Sources

Your professor only wants you to use "scholarly journals" for your research paper.  What does that mean?
If this is the first time you're hearing the term "scholarly journal," that's okay.  Most of us don't sit around reading journals for fun.  But now that you're starting your academic career, you'll begin to see how important these journals are.  It's through scholarly journals that experts in a field share new research and new ideas. So while you may read a great story about ground breaking research in a newspaper or magazine, chances are that those researchers published their original results in an academic, or scholarly, journal.  That's what makes these journals so important to your research.  You can go right to the source without anyone else's opinions getting in the way. 
This is not to say that newspapers and magazines, or so-called "popular sources," cannot be helpful to your research.  Newspapers can give you precise details about a particular event as well as how people reacted to that event around the time that it occurred.  Magazines can offer interesting and varying viewpoints on a single topic. But be careful how you use these sources. And you’ll want to steer clear of them all together if that’s what your professor has instructed.
So how can you tell the difference between a “popular” source and a “scholarly” source? Take a look at the NOVA Libraries guide How to Find and Identify Peer Reviewed Journals (
Wait…What is “peer review?” That will be the topic of next week’s post.  Happy reading!

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