Scholarly resources present original, in-depth research. The source has been reviewed by academic peers to ensure the validity of its research methods and findings.
Popular resources are intended for a general audience and are typically written to entertain, inform, or persuade.
Depending on your research question, both scholarly and popular sources can be appropriate for your purposes. However, keep in mind that research assignments will often require you to use scholarly materials. Table 1.1. below will help you to distinguish between an article from a scholarly journal and an article from a popular publication.
|Author||Subject experts, scholars||Journalists, students, popular authors, no author listed|
|Publication Format||Journals||Magazines; newspapers; trade journals: business, finance, industry (written by experts but not peer-reviewed)|
|Appearance and Design||Mostly text; some tables and charts; 5 or more pages||Flashy covers, advertisements|
|Language||Complex, academic writing style; technical terms and concepts||Simple, plain language aimed at the general public|
|Editorial Process||Peer-reviewed by multiple experts in the same field||Reviewed by one in-house editor or no editor at all|
|Intended Audience||Specialist readership of researchers, including students, professors, and subject experts||General readership|
|Citations||Includes a bibliography or reference list and in-text citations or footnotes; follows an academic style guide (e.g., APA)||No formal citations|
|Examples||Canadian Journal of Nursing Research, PLOS One, The Lancet||Women’s Health, Maclean’s, The Globe and Mail|
Check Your Understanding
Which sources are scholarly and which ones are popular? Click on images below to learn more.