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BIOL 200: Quantitative Biology

What are scholarly sources?

Most of the time when people refer to scholarly sources, they're referring to a certain type of articles and books.

Scholarly articles--which your professor may also call peer-reviewed, refereed, or academic articles--are considered the most reliable information sources. They are written by experts and go through a rigorous process where other subject experts analyze and critique the arguments to identify errors, faulty logic, and other problems. This process is called peer review, and while it's not foolproof, it does mean that these sources are likely to have the most trustworthy information on your topic.

Scholarly articles are:

  • Written by and for scholars, experts, or specialists. Authors should list their credentials.
  • Published by an academic press, university, scholarly publisher, or professional organization.
  • Written in factual, technical, and scholarly language.
  • Intended to report on research and scholarship.
  • Supported by bibliographies, works cited pages, and reference lists.
  • Subject to a rigorous process called peer review, in which scholars critique, approve, or reject studies for publication.

Scholarly books share all of the characteristics of scholarly articles listed above, except one: instead of being subjected to the peer review process that articles undergo, they are instead reviewed by an editor.

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Understanding the peer review process