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SPA258H: Introduction to Hispanic Literary Studies

Research tools, resources, and strategies for the students enrolled in the course during the 2023–2024 academic year, taught by Professor Sanda Munjic.

Types of Sources: Scholarly vs. Popular

What Are “Scholarly” Sources?

Scholarly sources report on original research by experts in a particular academic discipline. Often they go through a peer-review process, which means that they are evaluated by reputable scholars in the field before they are published.

Evaluating Sources: Academic vs. Popular


Questions to Ask 


Who wrote it? Are they an scholar, journalist, or a writer?
Does the author have credentials that qualify him or her to write knowledgeably on the topic?

Sources: Does the author acknowledge his or her sources? How?
Content: Is the content substantial?
Does it appear to be valid and well-researched?
Does it make sense, based on your own background knowledge, or what other articles have to say on the topic?
Writing: Is the language scholarly?
Is the article or the book well written?
Do illustrations and data support the content in a scholarly fashion, or do they appear to be attention-getting, or sensational?
Audience: Who is the article or the book written for?
Is it written for experts and researchers in the field, or for members of the general public?
Journal: Is it published in a scholarly journal or a popular magazine?
Publisher: Is it published by a university press or a large commercial publisher (such as Routledge or Palgrave Macmillan) that specializes in producing scholarly books? 

Is the Journal Scholarly?

Cervantes, volume 24, no. 2 (Fall 2022)Is the article published in a scholarly journal? How would you find out? Investigate the journal using these two strategies:

1). Search the journal name in the library catalogue (called LibrarySearch) to determine whether a journal is scholarly and/or peer-reviewed (also known as “refereed”):

locating a journal by title in LibrarySearch









2). Visit the journal’s website to learn more about the periodical:

  • is it published by a scholarly association such as the Cervantes Society of America?
  • Is it published by a university press?
  • On the journal’s website, look for the “about this journal” or “submission guidelines” section to learn about the publication’s editorial policy.

#1 Individual Activity: Making Scholarly Choices

This activity is designed to familiarize you with distinguishing between scholarly and popular sources that you will encounter while conducting research. Navigate to a shared document and consult the instructions on distinguishing between three different types of articles: scholarly popular, and reliable.