Scholarly Sources: The Short Answer
Scholarly books are published by university presses, in most instances, or by a few very selective commercial publishers like Pantheon, Basic Books, Knopf, or Sage Publications. Even the university presses in England and America have a hierarchy of excellence and importance in the scholarship they publish. The top tier presses are Oxford and Cambridge University Press in the UK, the American Ivy League university presses (Harvard, Yale, Princeton, U. Chicago, U. Pennsylvania, Cornell, Johns Hopkins), and the major state university presses (U. California, U. Massachusetts, etc.). Some smaller university presses have created "niche markets" in certain subject areas, as in University of South Florida's series of books applying modern and post-modern critical theory to medieval literature. Scholarly articles, including those found on Internet web sites, are published by professional associations created to support scholarship in a particular discipline (e.g., the Modern Language Association, the American Psychological Association) or by a group of scholars in a particular area of specialized study, to encourage research in that area (e.g., Arthuriana for the study of Arthurian literature). Both book and journal publication depends upon peer review and scholarly methods to insure accuracy for future readers, a concern far from the interests of popular publications, which strive to entertain and to express the authors' desire to be noticed by the world.
For the Hawthorne cultural context project, you must use scholarly printed sources. Look for the evidence of the latter in the apparatus used to document the book or article's sources and organize its parts. All facts not personally gathered by the author should be linked to sources, and those sources also should be cited using a standard format. Because scholars do not want their work to depend on weak or outright wrong sources, you can trust that their own sources also will use scholarly methods. Sources will be clearly identified in bibliographies, "Works Cited" sections, "References" sections, footnotes or endnotes. Book-length sources will contain a "Table of Contents," an "Introduction," and an "Index." If you ever have to wonder about where the author got the information or how the book's contents are organized, the source is almost certainly not scholarly and is not acceptable for English 105. I would be happy to grant exceptions to this rule, but only when there are no scholarly sources available and when the sources you propose to use can be defended as "accurate enough." Always ask me before you use them. In the case of the Hawthorne "Cultural Context" research project, there will be no need to use inferior sources--plenty of recent scholarly print sources are available in the library's general collection.
(I will accept online journal articles for the film analysis paper, but check this list of acceptable print and online sources. Note especially the ones that mix peer-reviewed and amateur articles. They must be used with caution. In effect, the editors are saying "you're on your own when reading this journal--some of it we know is well researched and reasoned, but the rest we're publishing because we felt like it." That is a characteristic of film studies as a discipline and a sign of its relative youth. In the early days of other disciplines, they, too, paid attention to amateur research. Then, after they got burned by work that turned out to be inaccurate, badly sourced, or incompetently reasoned, they reformed the discipline, set up professional associations to guard the standards of quality, and founded more peer-reviewed journals to control publication quality.)