Is it a scholarly source?
Your instructor wants you to use scholarly [or 'peer reviewed'] sources. What does she mean?
- Authoritative- written by a recognized expert in the field. How do you know? The PhD is one sign; employment by a university is another.
- Peer reviewed- before publishing, the article was vetted by other scholars in the field. How do you know? Try searching the journal title in Google and read the publisher's blurb.
- Audience- written for scholars and experts in the field. How do you know? The level of the language is usually a give away. It will be technical and formal.
- Includes a bibliography and/or footnotes with citations of sources used.
Scholarship is always changing. Try to find the most recent scholarly sources you can.
Evaluate what you find
Most books and articles you find through the library website are suitable as sources for your paper - but some are not!
This 5-minute silent video will make it clear.
When you find a source, study it to see whether it's "scholarly". Scholarly publications include footnotes and bibliographies documenting their sources, list the author's credentials, and in most cases have been validated through a peer review process.
For more details, see our Critical Evaluation of Resources page.
If you're using web pages found through Google or other search engines, evaluation is especially important, since these tools have no built-in validation of the content. For help, see our guide to Evaluating Web Pages.
This guide has been archived
Please note: this course guide was created during a previous semester, and is no longer being actively maintained. For a list of current course guides, please see http://lib.berkeley.edu/alacarte/course-guides.