Answered By: Jon Morris
Last Updated: Apr 03, 2018     Views: 74

'Scholarly' is a somewhat vague term, but at base you can think of it as academic writing composed by scholars (typically those with degrees in the field) for the consumption of other scholars (these being information connoisseurs such as yourself dear college student, researchers, and your professors). The standards for scholarly writing are higher than for popular sources such as newspaper and magazine articles. Whereas popular articles are full of visual appeal with tantalizing pictures, distracting advertisements, great sensational article titles, and bold opinions and assertions in their writing, scholarly articles are typically much more sober in appearance and more reserved in their assertions, relying on just what can be exhaustively backed up with high quality research. In short, this is the type of writing your professors expect you to do as college students. Can books also be scholarly? Yes, certainly.

When you are looking for scholarly research, here are some key points to watch out for:
-Most of the library's databases include a mix of both popular and scholarly sources (some being peer reviewed, some not)
-All scholarly writing diligently attempts to maintain objectivity in research of the topic
-Scholarly sources reliably include detailed information for all those sources used and all assertions made (such as a bibliography or set of references)
-The authors of scholarly articles know what they are writing about: they typically have degrees and/or years of experience in the field. They make clear their credentials and professional affiliations.

You will also be required by your professors to make use of peer reviewed articles: these are scholarly articles that have been evaluated and critiqued by multiple anonymous experts in the target field of scholarship before being published. Typically you can find 'Peer Reviewed' as a refining option in most of our databases, such as those in ProQuest.

Can books be peer reviewed? While books can certainly be scholarly (look for the qualifications above), they do not go through the same blinded evaluation and critiquing process as peer reviewed journal articles, so they are not generally considered peer reviewed.

Curious as how the book is regarded by critics and scholars? Try searching for book reviews in our databases. Some good choices are ProQuest Central (refine by Document Type > Review), Lexis Nexis (refine under the 'Subject' categories from results), and Choice Reviews (for academic books). For scholarly reviews, Project Muse and JSTOR (especially for books older than 3-5 years) are good choices. You can limit your results to 'Reviews' (JSTOR) or 'Reviews Only' (in Project Muse). Please note that just because a book is published or is in our collection (much the same as articles), does not in any way guarantee the objectivity and scholarly rigor or that book. We do buy books to present multiple viewpoints of major issues and those for recreational reading as well.

Have questions? Please contact a librarian: or stop by the Ramsey Reference Desk.

Further Reading:
On Peer Review:
On Source Types: