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Undergraduate Research Programs: Library Research Guide

Why Use Scholarly Sources?

Scholarly sources (also referred to as academic, peer-reviewed, or refereed sources) are written by experts in a particular field and serve to keep others interested in that field up to date on the most recent research, findings, and news. These resources will provide the most substantial information for your research and papers.

Scholarly sources’ authority and credibility improve the quality of your own paper or research project.

(From Determine If a Source Is Scholarly, Undergraduate Library, Illinois University Library)

Can I Just Use Google for All My Research?

Did you know that when you search Google you reach no more than 10% of the content available on the Internet?
See the infographic below.

Note that scholarly/academic articles required for your assignments are below the surface! To find them you need to use databases listed on the next pages of this guide.

Image source:

Search the Web with Google Scholar

Google Scholar


Please note the following about Google Scholar

  1. Google Scholar's coverage is is wide-ranging but not comprehensive. It can be a research source, but should not be the only source you use.
  2. Google Scholar does not provide the criteria for what makes its results "scholarly". Results are often vary in quality and it is up to the researcher to determine which of the results are suitable for their purposes.
  3. Google Scholar does not allow users to limit results to either peer reviewed or full text materials or by discipline.
  4. Google Scholar does not provide notice of when its materials are updated.
  5. Google Scholar's citation tracker can be difficult to use and inaccurate.

(From Google Scholar: Advantages/Limitations of Google Scholar, East Carolina University Libraries)

Is My Source Scholarly?


The article is most likely scholarly if:

  • You found the article in a library database or Google Scholar
  • The journal the article appears in is peer-reviewed*


The source is most likely scholarly if:

  • The authors’ credentials are provided
  • The authors are affiliated with a university or other research institute


The article is most likely scholarly if:
  • The source is longer than 10 pages
  • Has a works cited or bibliography
  • It does not attempt to persuade or bias the reader
  • It attempts to persuade or bias the reader, but treats the topic objectively, the information is well-supported, and it includes a works cited or bibliography
If the article meets most criteria in all three categories it is most likely scholarly.

* What is peer-review?

When a source has been peer-reviewed, it has undergone the review and scrutiny of a review board of colleagues in the author’s field. They evaluate this source as part of the body of research for a particular discipline and make recommendations regarding its publication in a journal, revisions prior to publication, or, in some cases, reject its publication.

(From Determine If a Source Is Scholarly, Undergraduate Library, Illinois University Library)

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Phone: 513-556-1424

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