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Honors: Research

A LibGuide to inform Butler Honors' students about the thesis writing process


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How to tell if a source is scholarly or academic. First, look for the easy stuff:  it should be on the long side, it will be very text-heavy with rare color and or advertisements. Scholarly sources often start with an abstract and finish with a reference list. You can also look at the author to see if a source is scholarly; are they credible with education or experience with the topic? Are they affiliated with a university or organization? Is there more than one author? The source should include its source and cite them in-text and in references. The purpose of scholarly sources is to be academic and informational. They should remain objective and cover specific, narrow topics. Scholarly articles also often introduce new research. Finally, the language of an article can indicate whether or not it is scholarly. Scholarly articles use technical jargon and don't stop to give definitions. They are meant for an audience of academics or professionals, so it's often hard for someone outside the field of study to understand them.

How to tell if a Source is Scholarly/Academic by adstarkel. Used under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Finding Scholarly/Academic Articles

To locate scholarly/academic articles, your best bet is to look in one of our databases or use WorldCat Discovery and limit your search to articles. You will likely find that there are LOTS of popular sources in with the academic ones, even within our databases. Use the Peer-Review Limiter to your advantage. This option is normally located in the left column; you can see screenshots of this option from WorldCat Discovery (left) and our EBSCO databases (right).

Peer review limiter in WorldCat Discovery searchPeer review limiter in EBSCO

This will limit your search to publications that are most scholarly/academic. It does not necessarily filter to include publications that go through a strict peer-review process. It also does not apply the filter at the article level; occasionally it will allows articles that are not scholarly/academic to come through (for example, an editorial opinion piece can be published in a scholarly journal but the article itself is not scholarly). 

If you have questions about whether or not a source is scholarly/academic, ask your professor or a librarian!

Selected business databases are linked below to help you get started.  If you want to try other databases, the Business Database Finder will help you match a database to your information needs.

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