The Process of Researching Scholarly Sources

Dear Future Podcaster: many students think that researching is a very complicated process. Or, more particularly that researching scholarly sources seem like a hard process. 

It isn’t.

For many, it’s as easy as clicking your mouse, typing a few words, and waiting for the unexpected results. However,  for some, the mere words, scholarly research, gives a frightening feeling. Hey, don’t worry! With the the immense world wide web right at our fingertips, the right words, and the correct steps, your scholarly research is sure to progress in an easy and quick manner.

Before beginning any research, one must understand the basic concept of research. So, what is research? Although it is a struggle to find academia work, research is a stage of investigation to reach new conclusions, or to gain further knowledge (University of British Columbia). According to John W. Best, “Research may be defined as the systematic and objective analysis and recording of controlled observations that may lead to the developments of generalizations, principles, or theories, resulting in prediction and possibly ultimate control or events. Research fulfills the gap of knowledge” (Penn Libraries). 

In other words, research is a constant process; whether it is studying sources, analyzing data, collecting information, or questioning theories, it is all part of that main concept, research. 

While researching, one is very likely to come across articles, blogs, journals, magazine cut-outs, university studies, and various sources. Before incorporating any sources into your research outline, you should categorize it, either as a popular source or a scholarly source.

These two types of sources,  popular and scholarly, are very different, and are used depending on what kind of information your researching. A popular source is an informal piece of writing for a general audience. For a wide range of readers to easily understand, this source tends to use simple language (University of Saskatchewan). Examples of popular sources: magazine articles, book reviews, editorials, etc. 

On the other hand, scholarly sources are professionally written by researchers or scholars in a particular field of study (University of Saskatchewan). These formal publications use technical language, and are often reviewed by editors/specialists numerous times. The researcher is usually a credible scholar, one whose findings are presented for various scholars, and students. Also, all research is thoroughly cited throughout the scholarly material. A few examples of scholarly sources are: research journals, articles, etc. 

If you’re still intimidated by scholarly research, here are a few steps for you to follow, and carry out while narrowing your research down:

Step 1: Search it up:

a) Start off by typing specific words related to your topic in a reputable search engine (ie. Google Scholar, etc.)

For example, my topic, Pros of Teen Texting, is a very broad topic. Once I’ve searched, “Pros of Teen Texting, ICTs” thousands of articles related to this topic would pop up. 


Step 2: Narrow it down:

a) To narrow down your research, or to use more updated data, it is suggested to         choose articles or published articles within the recent years. 

b) Use a year range of approximately 2-3 years.


Step 3: Be specific:

a) Pick and choose from articles that interest you.

b) Use key terms that are related to your research. 

For example, when I was reviewing the many searches on teen texting, “literacy” was a key term. There is so much information on the net in regards to how texting has an influence upon teen literacy. Also, since many people think texting negatively affects a student’s literacy skills, there are many scholarly publications and studies conducted which prove this myth wrong. So, how does texting positively impact teen literacy? This is my focus point, and what interests me. Now, I’ve narrowed down my research topic, I can continue to research scholarly articles using key words that are linked to my topic.


Step 4: Background check it:

a) Reminder: A scholarly source can be determined by: the author’s credentials, a professional publishing institution/organization, vocabulary, audience, citations, sources, etc. 

b) Also, if it is substantial or related to your topic, review and background check it, before incorporating it in your podcast.

c) The research must be accurate and correct if you would like to source it.


And there you have it! Simplified steps for you to follow in your scholarly research for scholarly sources. I hope these few steps help you grasp a better understanding of research, popular sources, and scholarly sources.

Written By: Sabrina Rajpaul

Works Cited:

"Reference Research: Develop Research Skills Among Students Community.” Web. 10 Nov. 2015. < http://reference-      research.

"Scholarly vs. Popular Sources." Get Research Help. Web. 10 Nov. 2015.>.

"Scholarly and Popular Resources." Scholarly and Popular Resources. Penn Libraries, 18 July 2013. Web. 13 Nov. 2015. < html>.

"University Library." How to Evaluate Information Sources. Ed. D. Dawson. 1 Aug. 2009. Web. 10 Nov. 2015. <>.