Both scholarly and non-scholarly materials have a place in arts and humanities research. Their use, and even their definition, depends on the context of the research project.
Books, conference publications, and academic journal articles, regardless of whether they are print-based or electronic, are common types of scholarly materials, which share the following characteristics:
Scholarly and academic journals, which are periodic publications that contain articles, have additional characteristics, such as:
Use the points above to evaluate the scholarly nature of internet sites. It helps if the site's URL ends in .edu.
So far, so good.
But things are not always clear cut, and here are some complexities to keep in mind:
Non-scholarly materials usually consiste of, but are not limited to:
Non-scholarly materials are legitimate sources for research in the arts and humanities, and should be used in context, just as scholarly sources must be used in context. For example, if you are researching something that happened very recently, you will have to, by necessity, use non-scholarly sources. It takes time for scholarship to be written, reviewed by peers, and published. In addition, there is no guarantee that your particular topic is of interest to other scholars. In such cases, look for scholarly materials in related areas that can provide a critical framework for you to use in analyzing your topic.
Remember to keep track of your sources, regardless of the stage of your research. The USC Libraries have an excellent guide to citation styles and to citation management software.