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Types of Sources - What's the Difference

Learn quick and easy criteria for differentiating between common source types often used for projects and research at the university.

Scholarly / Peer-reviewed

A scholarly journal, sometimes called a research journal, is a periodical that contains articles written by scholars and experts in a particular subject field. Your professors are scholars in the discipline they teach. Because these articles are written by experts for other experts, they contain technical and specialized vocabulary (jargon).

A scholar prepares an article and submits it to a journal. A review process, known as peer review, requires submitted articles to be reviewed by other scholarly peers (or equals) to determine if an article should be published. When it works properly, the peer review process should ensure that only high-quality articles are published in a journal.

Anatomy of a Scholarly Article

Click on the bubbles below to learn about the different parts of a scholarly article:

Characteristics of Scholarly Articles

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What is the purpose?
To inform, report, and show original research, experimentation, and thought

Why use them?
To support your own research, opinion, hypothesis, writing, etc.

Who is it for?
The reader is assumed to have a similar scholarly background

Who writes the article?
Written by researchers and scholars

Who reviews the article?
Articles go through strict review process by peers within the discipline / subject

What type of language or writing is used?
These articles rely heavily on unique terminology, jargon, and language specific to the discipline

Are other sources and cited?
Sources are always cited as footnotes, endnotes, or reference lists (bibliographies)

Are images and advertising included?
Graphs, charts, and illustrations related to the research are used; typically no advertising but when used it is very selective

How often are issues of articles published?
Varies greatly and can range from monthly to bi-monthly to quarterly