What are Scholarly Sources and Where Can You Find Them? 

by Paperpal
scholarly sources

Scholarly or academic sources of information are typically intended for academic audiences and are primarily based on scientific, evidence-based research and well thought out ideas and theories. They differ from popular or general sources in terms of their formal structure, authority, rigor, and purpose. Scholarly sources are authored by experts whose main purpose is to present research findings. Researchers and academicians typically use scholarly sources as they offer access to a wide array of past work that can be used as references and cited in manuscripts. This is especially crucial given the high level of dependability that scholarly sources provide given that they are peer reviewed in a rigorous manner.  

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On the other hand, popular or general sources of information such as magazines and news articles are written for wider and more general audiences. They are mainly written to provide information and to keep readers up to date with current news and developments, to entertain and so on. There is an aspect of research involved but they do not necessarily provide links to citations or sources. Popular sources offer a cross section of views and usually conform to specific ideologies and ways of thinking. 

6 types of scholarly sources and its importance in academic writing 

Common types of scholarly sources include the following: 

  1. Scholarly books: These are published by a university press or an academic publisher. They also include monographs that synthesize existing research or present new insights and perspectives on a specific subject. 
  2. Journal articles: These are published in recognized journals after rigorous peer-reviews. 
  3. Conference publications: These consist of papers presented at a conference or seminar. They focus on cutting edge research and are authored and presented by scholars and researchers. Conference proceedings are a good source to understand about new research in the field even before they are published.   
  4. Publications issued by government agencies: These include white papers, reports and policy documents issued by research institutions that are tasked with providing the government with accurate data, statistics, and analysis on a wide range of topics. 
  5. Websites: Some websites are also considered scholarly sources. To determine if it is a scholarly source it is important to check the domain of the page, and see if the contact information of the author or publisher is provided. It is also a good idea to evaluate the recency of the information provided and assess if there is any possible bias. 
  6. Doctoral theses: Written by PhD students as part of their degree requirements, these scholarly sources provide in-depth research on specific topics, and often contribute new ideas and knowledge to different disciplines. 

Scholarly sources are important in academic writing as it provides academicians and researchers the required stamp of rigor and reliability when writing manuscripts. When you submit your manuscript or article for publishing with adequate scholarly sources, it instantly gives your work much needed credibility and trustworthiness. Similarly, when one cites relevant, important experts or scholarly sources, it provides a certain authority to one’s submission.  

Confirmation bias can be prevented when a researcher or author quotes from scholarly sources. Publications look for papers that cite scholarly sources as they have a legacy that is trusted and also offer views on research topics that are unbiased and original. 

9 ways to identify and access scholarly sources

Academicians and researchers should carefully evaluate the sources to identify whether these are scholarly or popular sources. There are some distinct features that differentiate scholarly sources that help academics identify them, as listed below. 

  1. Evidence based: Scholarly sources contain data and arguments based on evidence and the information can be verified. A list of references or bibliography is provided in a scholarly publication from which the sources used in it can be verified. 
  2. Author credentials: For every scholarly source the name of the author or authors with their institutional affiliations are provided together with their qualifications. 
  3. Publisher: Are academic institutions, university presses or commercial publishers. 
  4. Target audience: Scholarly publications are intended for academicians, experts, students, researchers, and faculty in the specific or inter-related field. 
  5. Language: Scholarly sources follow the academic style of writing with the use of discipline specific terminology and academic terms. The language is specialized and not simple.  
  6. Purpose: The purpose of scholarly sources is to communicate findings of original research studies and advance knowledge in the field of study. 
  7. Bias: As scholarly publications base their information on evidence and facts, it strives to be free from bias. 
  8. Structure: Scholarly publications are well structured with an abstract, introduction, literature review, sections on methodology, results, and conclusion. They also contain in-text citations and a list of references or a comprehensive bibliography at the end. 
  9. Peer review: Scholarly sources generally undergo a strict peer review process. The peer review is conducted by different experts in the field. However, there may be some articles that may be considered scholarly even when these are not peer reviewed.  

Where can you find scholarly sources?

While writing academic and research papers, it is vital to use and cite scholarly sources. In order to access scholarly sources, researchers can use the following ways: 

  1. Institution’s library: an ideal place to access scholarly sources is your institution’s library. Find out the books, journals, databases that your institution’s library provides access to. 
  2. Database: you can consult credible research databases. Your institution library may provide access to reliable databases. You can also browse through digital libraries. 
  3. Reputed publisher: Identify books that are published by press associated with universities and reputed publishing companies as these are considered credible and trustworthy.  
  4. Peer reviewed articles: Browsing through peer reviewed articles in reputed and high impact journals is also another way to access scholarly sources.  

How to cite scholarly sources in research with Paperpal? 

Researchers typically write by searching for existing information and then conduct their study. They then write their paper, but often discover something new they want to explore. This means going back to find more information to make sure their ideas are well-supported. 

Doing research this way involves looking in many places for information, choosing the best sources, and checking if they are trustworthy. It can be slow and tricky to know what information to trust. On top of that, researchers often need to dig deeper while they write to find opposing viewpoints that make their arguments stronger.  

Paperpal’s new Research feature addresses this challenge head-on and helps writers find answers to their research questions while they write. It gives them clear summaries of scientific information from 250 million research articles and integrates the sources they use to their references. This saves them time and makes sure their work is well-supported by facts.  

When using Paperpal, here’s how you can cite scholarly sources: 

  1. Research Feature: Once you sign up/log in, you’ll notice that the Research feature in Paperpal has two parts: Search and Citation Library.  
  1. Search: You can submit your query and get accurate insights from over 250 million research articles with verified sources. 
  1. Citation Library: Below the AI response, you’ll find references. You can add these references to your Citation Library to keep track of new sources.  
  1. Citing Sources: You can cite a source using numbers, where each number corresponds to a particular source in the list of references in your text. Alternatively, you can cite using the first/last author of the source mentioned in the list of references. 

Now that you’ve explored what scholarly sources are and where to find them, you’re well on your way to strengthening your research and writing. Remember, using credible sources adds weight to your arguments and demonstrates the depth of your knowledge. 

Don’t be discouraged if navigating scholarly resources feels overwhelming at first. Many universities offer research assistance and librarians who can guide you. Additionally, AI academic writing tools like Paperpal can streamline the process of finding and citing relevant sources. 

Paperpal is a comprehensive AI writing toolkit that helps students and researchers achieve 2x the writing in half the time. It leverages 21+ years of STM experience and insights from millions of research articles to provide in-depth academic writing, language editing, and submission readiness support to help you write better, faster. 

Get accurate academic translations, rewriting support, grammar checks, vocabulary suggestions, and generative AI assistance that delivers human precision at machine speed. Try for free or upgrade to Paperpal Prime starting at US$19 a month to access premium features, including consistency, plagiarism, and 30+ submission readiness checks to help you succeed. 

Experience the future of academic writing – Sign up to Paperpal and start writing for free! 

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