You must use scholarly sources for your research project, but what happens when your chosen topic seems to not have any scholarship yet? You may run into this challenge if your topic is very contemporary or niche. The academic writing, peer-review, and publication process takes a long time, but it is still worth writing about modern topics.
In situations like these, you must dig deeper into contemporary, non-scholarly sources to support your research. In this guide, we will explore how to find and use substantive, authoritative non-scholarly sources.
What is a "substantive source”?
A substantive and authoritative source is a source that can bring knowledge and add value to your research, even if it is not “scholarly.” It is important to understand that there is more than one way of creating knowledge. You can identify a substantive source in the following ways:
Why Use Non-Scholarly, Substantive Sources?
Where to Look for Music Substantive Sources (Examples)
These sources are generally good places to begin looking for non-scholarly, substantive sources, but is not a complete list by any means:
*Note: Be cautious with social media. Use social media posts from artists as primary sources, non-factual quotes, and images and to lead you in the right direction.
How to Use Substantive Sources
In musical research projects, you must analyze music AND its context. Remember to use the sources; don't let the sources use you. Sometimes artists and authors misrepresent their own music; it is up to you to think critically and use every source wisely. Cite all sources, scholarly or otherwise. When in doubt, ask a librarian.
This guide was created by Damaris Billups and edited by Peter Shirts for use in Emory University Libraries in November 2022