Scholarly Research

College professors will usually require some scholarly (also called "academic" or "peer-reviewed") sources.

These are the three things to ask yourself in order to determine if your source is "scholarly":

  • Was it written by experts? The authors are specialists in their field. Most researchers will list their educational background (e.g. PhD, EdD, JD, LLM, MFA, MA, MS, etc...) and academic affiliation (the university where they work, if applicable).
  • Is it based on research? The findings are based on a study conducted by the authors (known as "primary" or "empirical" research), or on a review of other expert literature (known as "secondary" research). There should be a bibliography, reference page, or works cited list of the sources they used to conduct their research.
  • Who is the intended audience? Scholarly sources will use complex, expert language (jargon) and can be fairly lengthy. Most academic research is published in peer-reviewed journals or books and are not always freely available through Google. Use the CSUSM databases to find your scholarly sources.



Journal articles, book chapters

Magazines, newspapers, most websites

Written by experts

Written by anyone or anonymous

Based on research

Based on opinion

Longer, harder to read

Shorter, easier to read

AKA: academic, peer-reviewed, empirical

AKA: mass media, popular press

Find out more about scholarly research with this short summary and explanatory video.