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Scholarly Vs Credible Sources

Getting assignments done

When you need to outside sources, your instructors will usually asks for either credible or scholarly sources. To quickly and easily find these, you need to first learn what they are and where you can search for them.


  • Present knowledge as truth with one perspective on a topic
  • Written by journalists, professionals, observers, for the general public or other professionals
  • Usually cite or use other credible sources
  • Don’t always acknowledge the ongoing conversation surrounding the issue
Types of Credible Sources

While any source can be credible these options are safest:

  • Well-established newspapers and magazines (not the opinion sections): New York Times, Time, Newsweek,
  • Scholarly journals and books
  • Government and (most) university websites
  • Professional organization website or magazine
  • Tertiary sources: Textbooks, encyclopedias, dictionaries,


  • Participate in a larger, ongoing conversation on the topic 
  • Written for scholars by scholars
  • Engage with, cite, and build upon credible sources
  • Acknowledge multiple points-of-view or other ways of looking at the topic or issue
Types of Scholarly Sources
  • Scholarly/academic journal articles
  • Books published by a university or academic publisher

Note: Many faculty and research groups have websites or scholarly social media profiles (like Research Gate). These are not peer-reviewed but can be a place to locate citations for scholarly sources.

Sources to Avoid

Some sources are neither credible nor scholarly. Here are some features to look for:

  • No author/creator or date listed
  • Report on other news (listed as wirefeeds/newswire in databases).
  • Websites and magazines designed to sell or entertain (People, Glamour, Buzzfeed)
  • Sources written for K-12 students
  • Sources with significant political or social bias (see the bias chart)

How to Know

  • Evaluate your source using P.R.O.V.E.N.
  • Book should be published by a university press or academic publisher
  • Article publication or source should be list as scholarly or professional/trade in a database
  • Check websites for the author or organization information

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