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Research and Writing: Choose Scholarly Sources

A Writing Center / Cooper Library Collaboration

Interrogate Your Sources

Is the source...

Does it relate to your topic?

Is it scholarly, not popular? Find out more to the right.

Does it have an impartial point of view... or is it biased?

Scholarly vs. Popular

Your professor wants you to use "scholarly," "academic," or "peer-reviewed" sources. How do you know what counts? Here's a checklist:

  • Author(s): listed clearly and have credentials
    "Professor at...," "Doctor of...," "PhD," etc.
  • Title: sounds professional, specific, and academic
    "Journal of Physical Chemistry" or "Political Quarterly" vs. "People" or "Time"
  • Bibliography: there is a list of sources and/or footnotes
  • Depth: articles are lengthy and in-depth. They often include abstracts
  • Language: technical and academic
  • Visuals: charts and graphs and tables with no (or few) pictures
  • Publisher: a scholarly or university press


Remember: Many of our databases let you limit your results to scholarly sources. Look for these options, usually found to the left of your results list.

Still not sure? Ask your professor if the source is appropriate for your project!

Research Librarian & Instruction Coordinator

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Anne Grant
Cooper Library
Room 405