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Types of Sources


chart of academic/research disciplinesImage from Marcia J. Bates, Professor Emerita, Information Studies, UCLA

Scholarly Sources

Generally, a scholarly source is written by an expert in the given field and goes through the peer-reviewed process. Researchers use scholarly sources because they provide credible information. Most college-level papers you need to write will require you to reference scholarly sources.

While articles from academic journals are perhaps the most important scholarly sources, scholarly sources exist in many forms. Scholarly sources may also be books, conference proceedings, or other sources that match the scholarly criteria.

Characteristics of a scholarly source:

  • Authors are scholars or researchers in the field
  • Publication cites other sources
  • Publication is written in language that is either academic or specific to the field
  • Published by a scholarly press and reviewed
  • Publication is intended for academics or researchers in the field


In the peer-review process, a source is reviewed and scrutinized by colleagues in the author's field. Check to see if an article is peer-reviewed by searching the MLA Directory or Ulrich's Web.

Electronic Sources

As a member of WSU you have access to millions of information sources. SmartSearch, the Libraries Catalog, and the databases listed in A-Z Databases allow you to search for information pertinent to your research. However, not all sources provided by these services are academic articles. In fact, SmartSearch helps researchers locate music, maps, book, eBooks, and a variety of other source types.

Physical Sources

You may also find scholarly sources on the shelves of WSU Libraries. In addition to electronic sources, the Libraries Catalog and SmartSearch allow you to search for physical sources that are available in Ablah Library, the Music Library and the Chemistry Library collections.

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