Skip to Main Content

VIC165H Ideas and Their Consequences: Isolation and Communion in Modern Culture

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

Making Scholarly Sources

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?

African American Review, vol. 56, nos. 1 and 2 (Spring and Summer 2023)Is the article published in a scholarly journal? How would you find out? Investigate the journal using these three 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). Search the journal name in Ulrichsweb to determine if it is scholarly or peer-reviewed.
The black and white referee’s shirt indicates that the journal is peer-reviewed.

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

  • is it published by a scholarly association such as the African American Forum of the Modern Language Association?
  • 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.