In general, information that has been been created, selected, or reviewed by experts is more reliable, helpful, and accurate. These "experts" are often referred to as "scholars" and thus the articles and books they produce are referred to as scholarly sources.
Scholarly sources can be in the format of books, encyclopedias, and journal articles.
Scholarly sources are not typically free and accessible from Google searches.
"Many scholarly journals use a process of peer review prior to publishing an article, whereby other scholars in the author's field or specialty critically assess a draft of the article. Peer-reviewed journals (also called refereed journals) are scholarly journals that only publish articles that have passed through this review process. The review process helps ensure that the published articles reflect solid scholarship in their fields." Check out this site to see the exacting standards required to submit an article to the Physical Therapy Journal!
"Scholarly journals contain articles written by, and addressed to, experts in a discipline. They are concerned with academic study, especially research, and demonstrate the methods and concerns of scholars. The main purpose of a scholarly journal is to report original research or experimentation and to communicate this information to the rest of the scholarly world. The language of scholarly journals reflects the discipline covered, as it assumes some knowledge or background on the part of the reader. Scholarly journals always rigorously cite their sources in the form of footnotes or bibliographies. Many scholarly journals are published by professional organizations."
"While not all scholarly journals go through the peer-review process, it is usually safe to assume that a peer-reviewed journal is also scholarly."
Peer reviewed articles will often have the following characteristics: biographical information about the author(s) including their professional affiliations, extensive bibliography, footnotes, or endnotes; technical jargon specific to the field; a structured abstract containing distinct parts such as introduction, methodology, data, results, discussion, conclusions, etc. To help determine if a particular journal is peer-reviewed, refer to the journal itself (either to an individual issue of the journal or to the publisher's web site).
There is no comprehensive source for identifying all peer-reviewed journals. However, some online databases to which the Library subscribes allow you to click in a check box to limit results to only peer-reviewed or scholarly articles. These include EBSCOhost's databases: Academic Search Premier, CINAHL, and Psychology and Behavioral Sciences Collection and ProQuest.
Source: CalPoly Robert E. Kennedy Library. (N.d.) Finding Peer-reviewed or Refereed Journals. Viewed 10/2/2009: http://lib.calpoly.edu/research/guides/peer.html
Generally scholarly sources have the following characteristics:
Having academic credentials (an advanced degree) is not enough to make someone a subject expert; the degree must be in the subject or a closely related subject that the person is writing about. For instance, someone who has a PhD in economics and writes about nutrition is not a nutritional subject expert.
Source consulted: Quaratiello, A. R. (2007). Finding periodicals. The college student's research companion (4th ed.). New York: Neal-Schuman.