WRIT 1302 (Droz): Composition II: Home

Academic Sources

Cartoon owl wearing mortar board and glasses, reading while sitting on a stack of books


Ways in which academic or scholarly information sources are distinguished from popular and professional or trade sources include:

---  intended audience
---  rigor of the pre-publication review and editing process   
---  level of comprehension needed to understand/evaluate the content

Scholarly journals usually use a process called peer review to ensure quality. A peer-reviewed (or refereed) journal:

  • uses experts from the same subject field or profession as the author to evaluate a submitted article manuscript to determine its suitability and readiness for publication
  • has articles that report on research studies or provide scholarly analysis of topics
  • may include book reviews, editorials, or other brief items that are not considered scholarly articles

Many library research databases allow you to limit search results to peer-reviewed journals:

check box for scholarly peer reviewed journals

Summary of the Peer Review Process

Image by Jessica McCullough (http://home.gwu.edu/~mccull1/peerreview.html); used with permission.

The majority of non-fiction books owned by the library are scholarly, academic works, but there are exceptions. The identity of the publisher is one indicator of whether a book is likely to be scholarly in nature. You may want to look for:

  • university presses (Oxford University Press, Princeton University Press, etc.)
  • commercial publishers that specialize in academic titles such as SAGE, Routledge, Elsevier, Springer, or Wiley Blackwell (more examples from Colorado State Univ. Libraries)
  • professional organizations such as American Psychological Association or National Council of Teachers of English

In addition, look for:

  • author credentials
  • works cited, references, or footnotes
  • formal or technical language specific to the discipline
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