What is scholarly work?
Scholarly work is peer-reviewed, written by an authority on the subject at hand, or is produced by a reputable association - and in many cases, all of the above. Books and journal articles should include an author, information about the author, and be published by a known journal, association, or corporation. If there is no author listed, there is a good chance that the resource is not considered scholarly. Scholarly work is most often available through the library, rather than publicly accessible online (though there are of course exceptions, so be sure to look around!) and will not include advertisements. As well, if an article is published by a journal, take the time to find out more information about the journal, which should be easily accessible. If you cannot find the information needed to determine whether or not the work is scholarly, then you should use caution; it should be easy to examine the credentials of scholarly sources. Further caution should also be exercised in the process of reading the contents on an article before referring to them in your own work. The process of an article undergoing a peer-review is meant to promote the validity and reliability of the content. However, not all scholars who perform peer-reviews are rigorous in their analysis of another scholar's work, therefore proceed with an open and analytical mind by reviewing the methods used to conduct a study in journal article and verify those findings with those of other researchers. It is common to find articles with different results on a given topic, but there should be sound logic, a persuasive argument, and most importantly reliable research methods to support a scholar's findings.
To see the images, go to http://mlis.wikia.com/wiki/Scholarly_work_vs._Non-scholarly_work#What_is_scholarly_work.3F
It is important to know what resources are typically considered scholarly and how to differentiate
between a scholarly source and a non-scholarly source. To aid in your understanding, here are two charts that compare and contrast the characteristics of scholarly and non-scholarly work.
The left-hand chart comes from St. Charles College Library while the right-hand chart is from Carthage College Library. Many university/college libraries have subject guides or tutorials that cover this topic. You may want to explore other library websites for more information.
What is scholarly work? (another version)
This ultimately a subjective judgement about the quality of the work. Key elements in determining whether a work is "scholarly" might include:
- Is the work peer-reviewed? (e.g., journal articles and edited books usually are)
- What are the credentials of the author(s)? (e.g., are they recognised as having expertise in this area e.g., through qualification and/or appointment to an academic/professional role?)
- What are the credentials of the publisher? A well recognised publisher will generally have more exacting editorial standards than say, at the other extreme, a self-published book.
In scholarly writing, strive to utilise and cite the highest quality academic sources in relation to the topic.