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EDUC 5605 EDUC 5615 Bilingual Education Research Guide: Scholarly Sources

This guide is for master's students in the School of Education's BUENO programs or Equity, Bilingualism, and Biliteracy programs.



The Literature

 A body of non-fictional books and writings published on a particular subject; considered collectively.


Literature Review

A formal, reflective survey of the most significant and relevant works of published and peer-reviewed academic research on a particular topic, summarizing and discussing their findings and methodologies in order to reflect the current state of knowledge in the field and the key questions raised.


Academic Journals

 A discipline‐specific publication through which academics and other researchers can publish and disseminate their work, the academic journal normally takes the form of a collection of articles, research papers, or reviews which have been submitted to the journal's editorial board. In most cases papers being considered for publication are submitted for scrutiny and appraisal by recognized academics or authorities in the appropriate field, who may recommend that the paper be accepted as it stands, or that specific revisions be made, or that the paper be rejected for publication. This process of refereeing is known as peer review.


Peer Review

 The process by which an academic journal passes a paper submitted for publication to independent experts for comments on its suitability and worth; refereeing.

Anatomy of a Scholarly Article

Scholarly articles are typically written for a very specialized audience of fellow scholars and practitioners. Authors may assume that the reader has prior knowledge about the field. Don't be surprised if you find jargon or unfamiliar language! Try to get an overview of what the author's main points, claims, and questions may be. Many scholarly articles have similar structures or headings that may help you find your way. Look for sections like the abstract, introduction, section headings, and conclusion. They may offer cues that help you to infer the article's purpose and main argument.

Click on the gold plus boxes to learn more about the parts of a scholarly article.

Evaluating Scholarly Articles

The following list are some factors to consider when evaluating scholarly sources. This list is not exhaustive, and the criteria will vary depending on your purpose in looking for the information. What other factors might you consider?

These terms are often used interchangeably: Scholarly article, Peer reviewed article, or Refereed article, or Journal article

  •  What’s the title of the publication? 
    (Hint: different from the article title. Often Journal, Review, or Quarterly will be part of the journal title)
  •  Are the Authors experts in their field (PhDs, MDs, etc)?
  •  Does the article follow a format like this?
    • Abstract / Summary
    • Introduction or Literature Review
    • Methods: Did they conduct an experiment? What did they do?
    • Results
    • Discussion
    • Conclusion
  •  Is there a References section or footnotes/endnotes?
  •  Uh oh: does the article heading say “Perspectives,” “Opinion,” “Editorial,” or indicate anything other than a research article?
  •  How long is the article? (Hint: Usually between 5-30 pages)
  •  Are there charts, graphs, and tables of numbers? Are there quotations from other scholars, sources, or research participants?
  •  Was the article reviewed by other scholars/experts to see if the research is of high quality?
    (Hint: Do a Google search for the journal name. Look for categories like, “Instructions for Authors” or “About the Journal” on publisher’s webpage, which often mention "peer review" or "refereed" articles)
  • What type of study is this? Case study, research experiment, review article, philosophical argument, etc?
  • Do the authors seem to have a particular stance, belief, ideology, or bias that you can detect? 
    Hint: This isn't always a bad thing, but it is helpful to be aware of the author's views and how they may influence the research.

If you answer "yes" to most of these questions, chances are good that you've found a scholarly article! Still not sure? Ask a CU Librarian!

Great Tip!: Peer Reviewed Filter

Many library databases have a filter option to only show peer reviewed articles. These filters aren't perfect, but are much more likely to show you the types of information you many need for an academic assignment. They often weed out non-peer-reviewed materials like dissertations, books reviews, news articles, reports, or magazine articles.

peer reviewed filter in library databases

Format Types

Ms. Magazine

Popular Magazines

Tone:   Casual and accessible
Purpose:    Inform, entertain
Form:    Attractive, digital, print
Authors:    Staff writers or journalists
Review:    Approval by editor
Audience:   Broad general audience
Content:   News, opinion, short articles

Book image

Academic Books

Tone:   Formal, may be specialized
Purpose:    Inform
Form:    Digital, print
Authors:    Scholars or specialists
Review:    Approval by editor
Audience:   Academic
Content:   Background, overview, analysis

Academic Journals

Tone:   Formal and specialized
Purpose:    Inform, argue
Form:    Digital or print
Authors:    Scholars
Review:    Peer review
Audience:   Academic
Content:   Research, analysis, 10+pages 





Dance Teacher Magazine

Trade Magazines

Tone:   Understandable within profession
Purpose:    Inform 
Form:    Digital or print
Authors:    Staff writers or specialists
Review:    Editor; professional associations
Audience:   Targeted practitioners
Content:   Reviews, trends, case studies

government publication

Government information

Tone:   Formal
Purpose:    News, Inform
Form:    Digital or print
Authors:    Varies
Review:    Approval by editor
Audience:   Politicians, citizens
Content:   Policy, analysis, legislation



Tone:   Casual and accessible
Purpose:    Inform, entertain
Form:    Digital, print 
Authors:    Staff writers or journalists
Review:    Approval by editor
Audience:   Broad general audience
Content:   Current, brief, news, events