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Course Research Guides

What are scholarly resources?

Scholarly sources are works written by academics or other experts to contribute to a particular field(s) by sharing research findings, theories, analyses, insights, news, or summaries of current knowledge.​ Please note: all peer-reviewed sources are scholarly, but not all scholarly sources are peer-reviewed.  ​


How can you tell if an article is "scholarly" or research-based? Consider the following characteristics of the article you're looking at: 

  • Who is the author? 
    • Multiple authors, authors have credentials listed, many times associated with universities or associations.
    • Sometimes there may be editors as well as/instead of authors 
  • Who is the audience? 
    • Scholarly articles will include specialized keywords and technical language used in the field, as opposed to easy-to-understand language that anyone could read
  • What is included in the article?
    • Look out for key characteristics of scholarly work such as: 
      • Abstract
      • Introduction
      • Literature Review
      • Methodology
      • Results
      • Discussion
      • References/Bibliography/Citations

Where do I find scholarly sources?

Your best strategy is to start with one of the library's databases so that you know the results are scholarly and trustworthy. You may want to start with one of our larger databases linked below, but you're welcome to try any of the sites listed on our A to Z Database list

If using Google Scholar, remember to tell Google Scholar that you're an Erikson student!

You can do that by changing your "Library Links" in settings, or by using our special url that includes an institution code. 

You can access that special Google Scholar link here, or find more help with changing your settings on our Google Scholar page


How can I be sure the sources I found are trustworthy?

Especially when conducting a search using Google Scholar or another search engine, use the SIFT method from Michael Caulfield to better analyze the article. 

SIFT - stop, investigate the source, find better coverage, trace the quotes or data back to the original source


Searching success

Keywords and Key Phrases

Do you feel like you're just not getting the results you want? Play with your phrasing!

Try out different variations of your keywords and phrases until you find the right source for your research. Sometimes we just don't speak the same language as these databases, and it is important to persevere in our searches by trying something new. 

For example:

Imagine your research question is: How do sociodemographic characteristics impact rates of mental health diagnosis for children in foster care?

Below are some possible keywords you can tease out of your main research topic to yield more accurate results: 

foster care foster child foster children
mental health psychology stress response
behavior disorders child welfare sociodemographic
socioeconomic racial identity ethnicity
family size  welfare programs  

There are even more search terms you could consider when researching this topic, the limit does not exist! If you're not getting the desired results mix and match keywords as needed. 

Quotation marks, Boolean operators, and other tips

The following are examples of how you might use Boolean operators in your search:

Social work vs "Social Work" 

  • Using quotation marks can help narrow down your search results from millions to thousands to hundreds.
  • Results will be narrowed down to more topic or subtopic specific sources

Search results without using quotation marks


Search results when using quotation marks

Using an asterisk (*) at the end of "child" ensures that the databases search for variations such as "children", "childhood", and "child". 

Search results when using an asterisk or truncation

Using "AND" combines different ideas together to help narrow your search and ensure that the results include all the different themes or key phrases that you're looking for.

Search results when using AND

OR expands the search to include variations of key themes or phrases

Search results when using OR


Search results when using OR and parentheses

NOT narrows your search by excluding factors from your results. 

Search results when using NOT