Skip to main content

BRB English Resources: Scholarly Sources

This is a guide of resources to support English, literature, and composition courses at UW-Baraboo/Sauk County.

What is a scholarly/peer-reviewed source?

Scholarly or peer-reviewed sources are...

  • Written by experts in a particular field, such as research scientists, professors, doctors, and other professionals with high levels of experience and education. 
  • Usually peer-reviewed: a process where a panel of fellow experts in that field will critique and review the article before it is published in the journal.
  • Often considered the most credible sources available because so many experts have reviewed the articles. 

Learn more about scholarly articles below:

Searching for Scholarly Articles

The best place to find scholarly sources is by searching library databases.  This is because the databases contain credible information, it's easy to limit your results to scholarly articles, and many scholarly journals are not free on Google and the open web.

Identifying Scholarly/Peer Reviewed Articles

Scholarly articles...

  • Have  a list of references at the end of the text 

  • Often feature an abstract (summary) at the beginning of the article 

  • Always list the author's name

  • Are detailed and are usually several pages long

  • Are many times peer-reviewed (or refereed)

  • Are aimed at scholars in a particular field (biology, history, philosophy, etc.)

  • Example Article: Organic and Conventional Foods: Differences in Nutrients

Popular magazines...

  • Often don't tell you who wrote the article or any of the sources they used

  • Are usually brief and offer only general or superficial coverage of a topic

  • Have lots of ads and are usually printed on glossy paper

  • Are written for a general audience

  • Are often great sources for current, general information on a topic

  • Examples include: Time, Newsweek, National Geographic

How to Read a Scholarly Article

Scholarly or peer-reviewed articles can often be lengthy and complex.  What is the best way to read one?

  • Scholarly articles are usually divided into sections. Although this varies from article to article, here is an example of typical sections you might see (in order):
  1. Title page with abstract (summary)
  2. Introduction
  3. Literature Review
  4. Methodology
  5. Findings
  6. Discussion
  7. Conclusion
  8. References
  • To read a scholarly article:
  1. First, read the abstract, or summary, of the article.  This is the fastest way to learn what the article is about.
  2. Then, read the introduction. What is the purpose and/or background of the study?
  3. Next, read through headings to find relevant ideas and quotes within the article that may pertain to your topic.
  4. Then, read the conclusion. This will often summarize the results and findings.
  5. Finally, check the reference list for related articles which you may be able to use in your own research.
  6. If the article seems appropriate for your assignment, re-read the article to better understand the content and to extract additional ideas and quotes to use in your paper.