2-Types of Sources

Scholarly Articles as Sources

Articles in scholarly journals are valued for several reasons. First, they are usually trustworthy because their publication process includes a peer review that helps insure their accuracy and contribution to their disciplines. In addition, they often contain the first reports of new research, which makes their sections on methodology, data, analysis, and interpretation primary sources. Sometimes they instead consist of literature reviews summaries of multiple research studies done in the past on particular subjects of current interest. That makes those articles very helpful secondary sources.

Peer-Reviewed Sources

The most-respected scholarly journals are peer-reviewed, which means that experts in their field other than the author and editor check out each article before it can be published. It’s their responsibility to help guarantee that new material is presented in the context of what is already known, that the methods the researcher used are the right ones, and that the article contributes to the field.

For those reasons, peer-reviewed articles are more likely to be credible. Peer-reviewed journal articles are the official scholarly record, which means that if it’s an important development in research, it will probably turn up in a journal article eventually.


Parts of a Scholarly Article

The articles you use for your assignments must also be relevant to your research question—not just credible. Reading specific parts of an article can help save you time as you decide whether an article is relevant.

Movie: Guided Tour of Scholarly Articles

View playlist

Activity: Parts of a Scholarly Article

Open activity in a web browser.


Finding Scholarly Articles

Most scholarly articles are housed in specialized databases. Libraries (public, school, or company) often provide access to scholarly databases by paying a subscription fee for patrons. For instance, OSU Libraries provide access to hundreds of databases via its Research Databases List that are made available free to people affiliated with the University. You can search for a journal title in these databases or view a list of databases by subject. For more information, including how to search databases, see Specialized Databases.

Databases that aren’t subject-specific are called general databases. Google Scholar is a free general scholarly database available to all who have access to the Internet, and it provides some scholarly articles. For more information, see our section on using Google Scholar.

Tip: Known Article Searching

What if you have a citation for an article you need and now have to find the actual text of the article? Follow these instructions to Access to a Known Journal Article.