1.2 What is Scholarly Information?
Scholarly information consists of materials produced by and for scholars (namely, students, researchers, scientists, professors, and so on) to learn or advance knowledge on specific academic topics. Scholarly materials are produced to share knowledge and communicate research. This typically takes the form of papers, presentations, journal articles, books, and textbooks. Scholarly publications such as journal articles and books include carefully researched content, cited references (e.g., footnotes, in-text citations), and bibliographies. These elements are intended to facilitate the sharing of knowledge through listing other sources for follow up and demonstrating that the new ideas build on previous research.
When you browse the shelves of a research library or search a scholarly database, you might be surprised by some of the research topics. For example, theses and doctoral dissertations have been written on such topics as women’s swimwear, celebrity gossip blogs, buses in Bogotá, and more. These examples are real. Researchers somewhere found these topics to be of scholarly interest to them. Women’s swimwear becomes an understandable topic of interest when considered in the framework of textiles research; the bus system in Bogotá, Colombia could be a useful case study in urban planning; celebrity gossip blogs have been a legitimate topic of interest in communication studies, and so on. Research topics are virtually limitless.
One unique aspect of scholarly information is peer review, a high standard of editorial review that takes place before a scholarly journal article or book can be published. Peer reviewers are experts in the relevant subject area of the article or book. Their thorough readings and critical reviews help verify that the research is valid and the researcher’s conclusions are not only sound but also important. Academic libraries heavily collect peer-reviewed scholarly materials, with a strong focus on the subject areas taught at their institution.