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Research Starter Toolkit

This guide will help you learn how to use library resources in order to complete your research. Here you will learn how to access library databases, journal articles, books, and more.

What are Scholarly Sources?

It is likely that you will be asked or required to use scholarly or academic journal articles for your research assignments throughout college.

But...what does that mean​​​​​​? Because scholarly sources are not usually freely available to the general public, most of us don't have experience finding or using them until we are in a college setting.

Watch the following video for a definition of scholarly sources and how they are different from many popular sources that we encounter all the time:


Characteristics of Scholarly & Popular Sources

Use the chart below to review the distinctions between scholarly and popular sources as outlined in the video above:

Scholarly Popular
Written by experts in the field (e.g., academics, scholars, researchers) for other experts in their field. Written (usually) by journalists or freelance writers for a general, wide-ranging audience. 
Articles are usually quite lengthy (over 10 pages).  Articles are usually fairly short, from 1 to 5 pages depending on the periodical. 
Articles always include a detailed reference list citing their sources.  Articles rarely include a list of references.
Articles frequently use specialized terminology or jargon of the field & may be difficult for non-experts to understand. Articles usually employ everyday language and accessible terminology that a general audience can understand. 
Articles are text-heavy and may include graphs, charts, or data sets as visuals.  Articles are often glossy or designed to be eye-catching. Often use photographs or pictures to accompany the text. 
Rarely include advertisements.  Frequently include advertisements. 

Anatomy of a Scholarly Journal Article

Now that you know how to differentiate between scholarly and popular sources, let's take a closer look at scholarly journal articles

While scholarly journal articles vary in form by discipline, most of them have a similar structure. Knowing this structure will help you:

  1. Easily identify scholarly articles
  2. Know how to read them efficiently and effectively 

Watch the following video and take note of the elements or parts of scholarly journal articles:




Elements of a Research Article Review Chart

Use the chart linked below for your reference in reviewing the parts of a scholarly research article:

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