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EN 1257: Introduction to African American Literature and Culture: Types of Sources

Scholarly vs Popular Sources

Scholarly/Academic Sources Popular Sources
Examples: Peer-reviewed journal articles and books/book chapters Magazines and newspapers 
Author is usually:

Scholar in field, academic, or researcher  

Staff Writer, journalist, often a generalist

Credit/Sources: Always many references and/or footnotes          

Rarely cites sources, original sources may be obscure

Length: Articles and chapters are typically 10+ pages Usually brief 
Advertisements: Usually do not contain ads Usually have ads 


Evaluating Sources for Credibility

Scholarly Sources

To find scholarly sources for your papers, look for peer-reviewed journal articles and books/book chapters. 

A peer-reviewed journal is a respected type of publication. Before articles are published within these types of journals, they are sent by the editors of the journal to other scholars in the field ("peers"), often anonymously, to get feedback on the quality of the scholarship, review research methods, as well as relevance or importance to the field. The article may be accepted, often with revisions suggested, or rejected for publication. Many peer-reviewed journals have low acceptance rates. 

You can search for peer-reviewed journal articles in WPI Library Search and in the library's databases.

Books and book chapters are another important source of scholarly information. Some books are be written by a single author. Some books are collections of essays on a topic, where each essay is written by a different author. (When using individual chapters as sources, cite the chapter that you used, rather than the whole book.) 

You can search for books in WPI Library Search. You can also find books and books chapters in databases like JSTOR and Project MUSE