A couple definitions regarding source types referenced above:

  • Scholarly sources: Written by experts or scholars for experts and scholars in their own field, these sources have in some way been vetted by people with expertise in the field in which the author is writing. For example, a scholarly book may be published by a University Press or edited by a panel of peers. Scholarly articles often undergo the process of peer-review, in which experts in the field read and critique articles prior to their publication in a journal.
  • Substantive sources: Written for an educated, but not necessarily expert, audience, these sources seldom claim to present new knowledge; instead, they make knowledge available to non-experts. They often cite scholarly sources, but generally do not include a bibliography. Authors need not be scholars in the field; however, they engage in significant research and support their claims with reasons and evidence.  Examples can be found in publications such as these: The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Harper’s, Psychology Today, Scientific America.NOTE: NOT EVERY ARTICLE IN THESE PUBLICATIONS IS SUBSTANTIVE; in fact, the substantive source is usually just the feature story–commonly called the cover story because it is featured on the cover of the magazine. To reiterate, the vast majority of your non-scholarly sources should be substantive sources.For a thorough but certainly not complete list of Substantive Sources, see the lengthy list of Magazines on the left-hand side of this page:http://www.aldaily.com/ and please note that not every article in these magazines is substantive; rather, these magazines often contain one or two substantive sources–but often just the feature/cover story.

To judge the credibility of the sources, here’s a document created by VCU librarian Jenny Stout:

Jenny also created the following document: