The New York Times is one of the most well-known and respected news publications in the world. But is it considered a scholarly source? The short answer is no, the New York Times is not typically considered a scholarly source. In this comprehensive article, we will look at what exactly makes a source scholarly, the characteristics and purpose of the New York Times, and when it may be appropriate to cite the Times in an academic paper.

The New York Times has been publishing daily newspapers since 1851, covering a wide range of topics including national and international news, politics, business, technology, science, sports, arts and more. With its strong reputation for high-quality journalism and numerous Pulitzer Prize awards, the Times is hugely influential and read by millions worldwide. However, for student research papers and academic publishing, there are certain standards that define scholarly sources, which the New York Times does not strictly meet.

What Makes a Source Scholarly

When evaluating the credibility and reliability of a source, it is important to determine whether it is scholarly or not. Scholarly sources are considered highly authoritative and are often relied upon by experts in a particular field.

They provide valuable and well-researched information that can be used for academic purposes. So, what exactly makes a source scholarly? Let’s explore the key characteristics:

1. Written by academics/experts

A scholarly source is typically written by academics or experts who have extensive knowledge and expertise in their respective fields. These individuals have dedicated their careers to conducting research, analyzing data, and contributing to the existing body of knowledge.

Their expertise adds credibility to the information presented in the source.

2. Presents original research

One of the distinguishing features of a scholarly source is that it presents original research. This means that the author has conducted their own investigation or study, collecting data, analyzing it, and drawing conclusions based on their findings.

This originality adds value to the source as it contributes new insights and knowledge to the field.

3. Peer-reviewed process

Another important characteristic of scholarly sources is that they undergo a rigorous peer-review process. This means that before publication, the work is reviewed by a panel of experts in the same field who evaluate its quality, methodology, and overall contribution to the field.

This process ensures that the information presented in the source is reliable and free from bias.

4. Serious, in-depth analysis

Scholarly sources are known for their serious and in-depth analysis of a particular topic. They go beyond surface-level information and delve deep into the subject matter, providing a comprehensive understanding of the topic.

This level of analysis helps readers gain a thorough understanding of the subject and its implications.

5. Formal tone and style

Scholarly sources are characterized by a formal tone and style of writing. They adhere to specific guidelines and conventions, using technical terminology and referencing other scholarly works. The use of a formal tone demonstrates the professionalism and expertise of the author, making the source more credible.

6. Intended for an academic audience

Scholarly sources are typically intended for an academic audience. They are written with the assumption that readers have a certain level of prior knowledge and understanding of the subject matter. This allows the authors to delve into complex concepts and provide detailed analysis without having to explain basic concepts.

Characteristics and Purpose of the New York Times

Written by professional journalists

The New York Times is a renowned newspaper that employs professional journalists who are well-trained and experienced in their respective fields. These journalists are committed to delivering accurate and reliable information to the readers.

Primarily covers news events and issues

The primary focus of the New York Times is to cover news events and issues happening around the world. It provides in-depth reporting on a wide range of topics including politics, business, science, culture, and more. The newspaper aims to keep the readers well-informed about the current happenings.

No peer review

Unlike scholarly sources, the New York Times does not go through a peer review process. The articles published in the newspaper are reviewed by editors and fact-checkers to ensure accuracy, but they do not undergo the rigorous evaluation by experts in the field.

Analysis and commentary, but more informal

The New York Times offers analysis and commentary on various subjects. While these pieces are informative and provide insights into different issues, they are often written in a more informal style compared to scholarly sources.

The newspaper aims to engage readers and make complex topics understandable to a wide audience.

General audience, not just academics

The New York Times caters to a general audience, including both academics and non-academics. Its content is designed to be accessible to a wide range of readers, regardless of their level of expertise in a particular subject.

This makes it a valuable source for anyone seeking reliable information and analysis on current events.

Motivated to inform public and sell papers

While the New York Times is dedicated to providing accurate and objective reporting, it is important to note that it is also a business. Like any other newspaper, it has a financial motive to sell papers and attract readers.

This does not necessarily undermine the integrity of the information provided, but it is important to be aware of the newspaper’s underlying motivations.

When the New York Times May Be Cited in Academic Writing

When it comes to academic writing, scholars often rely on peer-reviewed journals and scholarly sources for their research. However, there are instances where the New York Times, a reputable news organization, can be cited as a source.

Here are some situations where citing the New York Times may be appropriate:

To provide background or context for a topic

The New York Times can be a valuable resource for providing background information or context on a particular subject. Its extensive coverage and in-depth reporting can help readers gain a better understanding of the topic they are studying.

For example, if a researcher is writing about the impact of social media on mental health, citing an article from the New York Times that explores this issue can provide valuable insights and set the stage for further analysis.

As an example of media coverage or public discussion

The New York Times is often considered a representative source for media coverage and public discourse. Citing the New York Times can be useful when discussing how a particular topic has been covered in the media or how it has been a subject of public discussion.

For instance, if a scholar is analyzing the representation of climate change in the media, citing articles from the New York Times can provide examples of how the issue has been reported and debated.

To cite historical news events and facts

The New York Times has a long history of reporting on significant news events and providing factual information. When writing about historical events or presenting factual information, citing the New York Times can add credibility to the research.

For instance, if a historian is writing about the Watergate scandal, referencing articles from the New York Times published during that time can provide primary sources and a historical perspective.

For commentary from subject experts

The New York Times often features opinion pieces and editorials written by subject experts. Citing these articles can be valuable when discussing different perspectives or arguments on a specific topic. It allows researchers to incorporate expert opinions and analysis into their work.

For example, if a scholar is examining the ethical implications of artificial intelligence, citing an op-ed from a renowned AI expert published in the New York Times can provide valuable insights.

With appropriate context and limitations noted

While the New York Times is a reputable source, it is essential to note any potential limitations or biases. Acknowledging that the New York Times is a mainstream media outlet with its own editorial stance can help readers evaluate the information critically.

Additionally, researchers should always cross-reference information and consider using multiple sources to ensure accuracy and objectivity.

Using the New York Times Appropriately in Academia

When it comes to using the New York Times as a source in academic research, it is important to understand how to utilize it effectively. While the New York Times is a reputable and widely recognized news outlet, it is not considered a scholarly source in the traditional sense.

However, with proper understanding and usage, it can still be a valuable resource in academic work.

Distinguish between news and opinion content

One key aspect to keep in mind when using the New York Times is to distinguish between their news and opinion content. The New York Times publishes a range of articles, including news reports, analysis, and opinion pieces.

It is crucial to differentiate between these categories, as news reports are generally considered more objective and reliable, while opinion pieces reflect the individual views of the author. It is important to cite opinion pieces appropriately, acknowledging that they represent a particular perspective rather than an established fact.

Supplement with scholarly sources when possible

While the New York Times can provide valuable insights and information, it is essential to supplement its content with scholarly sources whenever possible. Scholarly sources, such as peer-reviewed journals and academic books, undergo rigorous scrutiny and are backed by research and expert opinions.

By incorporating scholarly sources into your academic work, you strengthen the credibility and reliability of your arguments.

Focus on relevance to academic subject matter

When using the New York Times as a source in academia, it is essential to focus on the relevance of the content to your academic subject matter. The New York Times covers a wide range of topics, from politics and economics to science and culture.

Ensure that the articles you cite are directly related to your research topic and contribute to the discussion within your field of study.

Note limitations – unverified facts, lack of peer review

It is crucial to note the limitations of the New York Times as a source. While the newspaper has a rigorous fact-checking process, there may still be instances where the information provided is not entirely verified.

Additionally, as a news outlet, the New York Times does not undergo the same level of peer review as scholarly sources. Therefore, it is important to critically evaluate the information and corroborate it with other reputable sources.

Use primarily as supporting, not primary evidence

The New York Times should primarily be used as supporting evidence rather than primary evidence in academic work. While the newspaper provides valuable insights, it is not as comprehensive or specialized as scholarly sources.

By using the New York Times as supplementary evidence, you can bolster your arguments and provide a broader context for your research.


In summary, the New York Times is widely respected but not considered a truly scholarly source. It lacks rigorous academic analysis and peer-review. However, it can still be useful in academic writing when relevant facts, expert views, media perspectives or historical records are needed. As long as scholars apply appropriate context and supplement with scholarly research, the Times can provide valuable insights and discussion when used responsibly.

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