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Electrical & Data Engineering: What is Scholarly Information?

This guide contains resources and guidance to help students studying Electrical, Electronic and Data Engineering.

Scholarly & popular sources


Scholarly sources (also referred to as academic, peer-reviewed, or refereed sources) are written for and by academics with systems in place to ensure the quality and accuracy of information. These are the kinds of resources you should primarily be using in your assignments.

Scholarly sources include books from academic publishers, scholarly journals, and reports from research institutes.

The table below shows the characteristics associated with scholarly sources vs. popular sources.

Both scholarly and popular sources can be appropriate for your research purposes, depending on your research question, but research assignments will often require you to consult primarily with scholarly resources. 


Scholarly  Popular
Examples Scholarly journals, books from academic or university presses which are specific and in depth Magazines, websites, newspapers, books from popular publishers like Penguin and Random House
Purpose Communicating research findings; education  Entertainment; news
Authors Scholars with subject expertise Generalists, including bloggers and journalists; not always attributed
Audience Scholars, researchers, students General readers
Language Dense, includes academic jargon Easier to read, defines specialized terms
Citations Sources cited No formal citations
Before publication Evaluated by peers (other scholars) Edited by in-house editors or not edited at all
Design Mostly text, with some tables and charts; very little photography; no advertising  Glossy images, attractive design; photo illustrations and advertising are more common

Finding different types of Information


Book icon


Often give an overview of a large or complex topic and contain the fundamental theories and ideas of practice.

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Journal Articles

Focus on a particular subject and examine a specific aspect of an issue or idea. Scholarly journal article are mostly peer-reviewed before publication and can be a great source of current research and leading information in a field.

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Conference Papers

Present the latest research and advancements in a particular field and are typically published in collections called "proceedings". 

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Technical Reports

Describe the process, progress, or results of technical or scientific research or the state of a technical or scientific research problem. 

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Are official publications used in industry and trade to describe specifications and procedures. Standards provide rules and recommendations for quality, safety, performance and construction, codes of practice, methods of testing, symbols and terminology.