University of South Florida St. Petersburg Campus

SLS 1107-Foundations of University Success: St. Petersburg Campus

A few definitions

Peer Review- a process that scholarly articles go through, includes review by outside reviewers who are also experts on the topic as well as editors.

example: After doing a longitudinal study on the effects of herbicides on frog gus microbiota the scientists publish an article in Nature. Before publication the article is submitted to at least three peer-reviewers who review the methodology of the study, the findings and the article itself. After each revision, the authors send the article back to the editor of the journal until it is approved for publication. This process of peer review can take many months and does not include the time needed for the longitudinal study which can take years. 

Information Pollution: When all information starts to lose value or be seen as contaminated due to things like misinformation, disinformation, and poor quality content, and propaganda. 

example: When covid first emerged there was poor quality information as it was a new virus with no research. Some people continue to doubt information from different authorities on covid because of low quality information they received earlier in the pandemic. 

Authority: Someone with expertise and credibility on a certain topic. Authority depends on the information need and context. It requires critical thinking to understand who will be an authority on a topic in particular situations. Very few people are authorities on all topics. 

Gwyneth Paltrow is an authority on acting in blockbuster movies. She has studied and practiced acting for many years to make her an authority on the topic. She does not have a medical degree so she is not an authority on health. Her Goop lifestyle blog is available for people but she is not actually done peer reviewed research to show how she is coming to the conclusions she comes to. 

Reference Resources

Reference sources are resources that help you get a basic understanding of a topic. They are written for both general and expert audiences. Types of these resources include encyclopedias, handbooks, and dictionaries.

Scholarly vs. Popular Articles


Newspaper articles are written by journalist and are a type of popular, general interest publication. However a newspaper is often the best place to get current up to date information as they don't require peer review and are published quickly. While they are not an academic resources they can be very helpful in research on different topics. 

Newspapers are great primary resources for historical events as well as they show us what people thought and wrote at the time of the event. 

You can find our guide to newspapers here:


The library has a wide range of books. As with all information, how you use what type of book depends on the situation and research need. We have fiction, popular non-fiction, and scholarly books.

Fiction: literature in the form of prose, particularly novels and short stories

Popular non-fiction: Written for a general audience who might not be experts, might not include citations or references, typically narrative or biographical. Can be a great resource for basic information on a topic. 

Scholarly: Written by authority on topic for other scholars, may be written by one author but also may be edited volume from multiple experts. Often published by university or scholarly association.