You're probably doing most of your academic research online, in library databases or on the open web. (Even if not, the tips on this page should still be useful to you.) That's great! But you still need to be careful that you're getting good sources, especially if you're on the open web. Luckily, the internet also makes it easier to evaluate the sources you find. Read on for some specific pointers...
What does "scholarly" mean? It generally refers to work that's the result of formal research, written by scholars in the field for other scholars. Scholarly works are usually peer-reviewed (see the box below), although the process works a little differently for books than for articles in journals. Scholarly works cite their sources thoroughly and can include bibliographies or lists of works cited, depending on the citation style used.
Magazines and scholarly journals are different, although they sometimes cover similar ground. The main differences: peer review and citing sources! This chart from NC State University Libraries will help you distinguish among them.
"Grey literature" refers to literature produced by government, academia, business, and industry outside of the commercial publishing process - things like government agency reports, NGO whitepapers, dissertations, and corporate annual reports. It can involve meticulous research, but doesn't go through the same editing and peer review process that, say, journal articles do. You can still evaluate it like other sources, though! If after evaluating a piece of grey lit, you'd like to use it in your work, (1) ask your professor if they consider it an acceptable source and/or (2) check the citations for leads on other resources.
To find out more about a journal: If you're in one of the library's databases, you can usually click on the journal's name when you're viewing an article to learn more, including whether it's peer reviewed. For more, look through our research guide on Evaluating Journals.
To find out more about what other scholars think of a book: If you're looking at a book, chances are it's been reviewed. You can use the Book Review Index Plus database to locate reviews - search for the title and/or author, then click "GET IT" under the result(s) you're interested in to get the full text of the review.
...or an article: With an article, looking at other works that have cited it can be helpful. Try searching for your article's title in OneSearch, then clicking on "Cited by" in the lower right corner of the result. You can skim the resources that come up or Ctrl-F within them for your article's name to see if they're citing your article approvingly or negatively. If your article doesn't come up in OneSearch, try that process on Google Scholar instead.
When looking for peer reviewed articles, remember that they're also sometimes called "peer refereed" or just "scholarly" as synonyms.