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Research Building Blocks: Using Scholarly Sources

What are Scholarly Sources?

A scholarly source is a  book, article, dissertation, or other publication that has been written by an expert in the subject area or field of study and reviewed by experts in the same field. When reviewed by an expert(s) it is considered peer-reviewed or refereed. Scholarly sources are considered credible, trustworthy, accurate and of utmost quality. 

Scholarly sources are not the same as newspaper and magazine articles, book reviews, and editorials which are not rigorously reviewed for accuracy and are often written to be easily digested by the public. Mainstream or general sources are often biased and /or limited in the scope of their coverage of the topic. For example, a newspaper article may omit some information that is relevant to understanding a topic, either due to bias, lack of understanding of the topic, or interest.

Scholarly sources provide credibility, lend authority and are impartial about the topic. Scholarly sources are often indexed through such databases as Science Direct, Google Scholar, Microsoft Academic, WorldWideScience, ResearchGate, PubMed, JSTOR, Academic Search Premier, and OneSearch.

What about ChatGPT?

ChatGPT is the latest technology in the world of artificial intelligence and machine learning (built by OpenAI). The chatbot can make life much easier for many with its instant answers and compositional skills. Learners and researchers increasingly use ChatGPT for many aspect of the publication cycle, especially with citations.

However, be wary that citations generated in Chatgpt may not be accurate, trustworthy, or easy to validate, and can be outright wrong.

ChatGPT sometimes writes plausible-sounding but incorrect or nonsensical answers. Fixing this issue is challenging- Introducing ChatGPT (

Ways to Validate ChatGPT sources

SOURCE: How to make ChatGPT provide sources and citations | ZDNET

Ask ChatGPT to provide sources for the previous answer

1a.  Ask ChatGPT to provide URL sources for previous answers. This specifically tells ChatGPT that you want clickable links to sources. You can also tweak this up by asking for a specific quantity of sources; e.g. 5 -10 sources.

1b. Attempt to verify/validate the provided sources. If the sources provided are offline sources, such as books, papers, etc., you will have to find and verify them manually.

Keep in mind that ChatGPT cannot provide any information after 2021.

Citations generated by ChatGPT can be validated by smart scholarly citation software such as that shows citations in scholarly context through extracting and analyzing over 1.3 billion citation statements.

Citing ChatGPT


Is the Left Brain / Right Brain Divide Real


The author used ChatGPT to help develop the research question and to generate some draft text on this topic…

When prompted with “Is the left brain right brain divide real or a metaphor?” OpenAI (2023) responded with the ChatGPT-generated text indicating that, although the two brain hemispheres are somewhat specialized, “the notation that people can be characterized as ‘left-brained’ or ‘right-brained’ is considered to be an oversimplification and a popular myth”. 

When given a follow-up prompt of “What is a more accurate representation?” the ChatGPT-generated text indicated that “different brain regions work together to support various cognitive processes” and “the functional specialization of different regions can change in response to experience and environmental factors” (OpenAI, 2023; see Appendix A for the full transcript).


OpenAI. (2023). ChatGPT (Mar 14 version) [Large language model].

You can read the complete blog post on this topic from APA here:

What about Wikipedia?

Wikipedia is not a reliable source. Wikipedia can be edited by anyone at any time. This means that any information it contains at any particular time could be vandalism, a work in progress, or just plain wrong. Wikipedia is a volunteer run project and cannot monitor every contribution all of the time. Errors may remain unnoticed for days, weeks, months, or even years. Therefore, Wikipedia should not be considered a definitive source in and of itself.

The same applies to Wikipedia's sister projects, as well as websites that mirror or use it as a source themselves, and printed books or other material derived primarily or entirely from Wikipedia articles.

(From: Wikipedia. Wikipedia is not a reliable source. Accessed March 8, 2019. Used under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.)

See also:

Weir R. Does Wikipedia Suck? [Internet]. Inside Higher Ed. Inside Higher Ed; 2010 [cited 2019 Mar 8].

Moran ME. The Top 10 Reasons Students Cannot Cite or Rely On Wikipedia [Internet]. SweetSearch 2Day.. SweetSearch Inc.; 2017 [cited 2022 Sep 29].

How are Scholarly Sources "Peer Reviewed" or "Refereed"?

"A peer-reviewed journal is one that has submitted most of its published articles for review by experts who are not part of the editorial staff. The numbers and kinds of manuscripts sent for review, the number of reviewers, the reviewing procedures and the use made of the reviewers’ opinions may vary, and therefore each journal should publicly disclose its policies in the Instructions to Authors for the benefit of readers and potential authors."  (International Committee of Medical Journal Editors. Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts submitted to Biomedical Journals, 2007)

More on Scholarly Sources

Citation Justice

Citation Justice is a concept aimed at addressing the under-citing of women, BIPOC and other minoritized researchers.

Citation Justice asks researchers to consider digging deeper into the literature, and thinking about whom to cite, whom to quote, and whom to paraphrase based on the quality and relevance of the research, and the diversity of perspectives required to reduce bias, instead of how well-known the authors are or how well-cited the article is or how highly rated the journal is.

If you are interested in learning more, or starting to practice Citation Justice, here are some resources you may find helpful: