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EDU 218: What is a scholarly source?

Dr. Davis wants you to include at least 5 scholarly sources. This guide discusses what that means and where to look.

What is a scholarly source?

What is a scholarly source? A scholarly source may also be referred to as a peer-reviewed source. It is written by experts, for experts. They are reviewed by several experts before publishing. The opposite of a scholarly source is a popular source. It is something that is written using language the general public can understand. Examples of popular sources include magazines and news websites.

So how do you find a scholarly source? Most of our databases have the option of limiting your results to peer-reviewed sources. Make sure the box is checked to limit your results.

How do I know my article is peer-reviewed?

If you're unsure about a source, Google the journal title (ex. American Journal of Education). If a journal is peer-reviewed, it will usually tell you so in the description.

When choosing an article:

Look for:

  • An abstract
  • A literature review
  • Methods
  • Results
  • Conclusions
  • A long list of references


  • Book reviews
  • Editorials

Even if these appear in peer-reviewed journals, they are not peer-reviewed sources. These are opinions. Literature reviews are not the same thing as a book review.

The Peer-review Process

Not sure if your article is peer-reviewed? Email me!

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Kala Dunn
Edens Library