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HI249 - Historical Research Methods: Scholarly Secondary Sources Evaluation Worksheet

Scholarly Secondary Sources Evaluation Worksheet

Video: How to Correctly Complete Your Assignment

Is your article "popular" or "scholarly"?

Generally, when a professor asks you to find 3-5 "sources" for your research paper, he or she means that you should only use scholarly, or peer-reviewed, journal articles. Articles from magazines or that you find freely-available online through websites are often not scholarly and are called "popular" sources. Use the chart below to tell whether or not your article could be used in your research paper.

Millions of scholarly journal articles are available through the Library's databases - visit the "Journal Articles" tab to find out how and where to search! 

How to Tell if Your Book (or eBook) is a Scholarly Source

Here are several ways to check whether or not the book that you've found in the Kreitzberg Library's collection could be considered a "scholarly" source.


Be sure and look for university press publishers (example: Oxford University Press) because these publishers almost exclusively publish "scholarly" or "academic" materials. Other scholarly publishers include Taylor & Francis, Routledge, SAGE, Springer, and Wiley. You can also check the following lists to see whether or not the publisher of your book or eBook appears:

Use the screenshots below for step-by-step directions on how to find the publisher of a book in the Library's online collection.

  1. Click on the book's title on the search results page.
    Search result with title highlighted

  2. Find Publisher information on the item details page.
    Item detail page with publisher highlighted

If you aren't sure whether or not a publisher is academic, try Googling the name of the publisher along with the words "academic" or "scholarly."

References, Footnotes, & Bibliography

Academic or scholarly books, eBooks, and journal articles will have extensive bibliographies and footnotes - bibliographies in scholarly books will often be more than 50 pages long! A well-documented book or journal article is always a good indicator of whether or not a resource is "scholarly" in nature. Also, take a look through the author's footnotes and bibliography to see if you can use any of their sources for your own project!

Author's Credentials

The author of a scholarly book or journal article will be an expert in a particular field or subject area. This means that s/he will often hold a least a PhD in his or her field of expertise and will be a professor at a university. Try Googling the author's name to see if you can find out more about the author's educational background. If the author does not have advanced degrees in the field, then the source you're evaluating may not be "scholarly" in nature.