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InfoSkills for Social and Behavioral Sciences

InfoSkills @ TiU

A closer look at scholarly sources

Scholarly communication

Academics share their theories and research findings with the academic community in many ways, for example by talking to their colleagues, presenting papers at conferences, tweets, or posts in blogs and other websites. 

The most important way in which researchers tell other researchers about their work is by publishing journal articles ('papers') and books. Articles are particularly important. 

That said -- academic fields differ as to the importance that is attached to articles and books. For example, in the humanities (language and literature, philosophy, history, theology) relatively more books are published than in other fields.

What makes a source scholarly? 

In order to effectively search for sources for a writing assignment, it's critical that you can quickly identify scholarly publications. Look for the following characteristics:

  • Authors: written by academics who are experts in the field of study. Authors’ names are listed with credentials/ degrees and places of employment, which are often universities or research institutions.
  • Language: advanced vocabulary or specialized language intended for other scholars in the field, not for the average reader.
    But perhaps the most important feature of a scholarly source is:
  • Citation: scholarly sources refer to (cite) the origins of information and ideas the author has used to support his/her argument.

Citation: Standard practice in scholarly writing

Citation: A (very) brief introduction

Watch this video (2 mins.) to learn more about the purposes of source citation in science.

Source: North Carolina State University Libraries. Published under a Creative Commons CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 US license.

Citation styles used at Tilburg University

Most commonly used at TiU is APA style, established by the American Psychological Association (APA). The university library has a concise APA guide for TiU students, available in English and Dutch. Students studying at the School of Humanities and Digital Sciences may be asked to use the Chicago citation style. The Tilburg School of Theology also uses Chicago. Law students pursuing a Dutch-language study are expected to use 'Leidraad voor juridische auteurs,' which can be found on the Wolters Kluwer website.