Scholarly vs. Popular Articles

Your professor is likely to ask you to use scholarly resources for your paper. Professors prefer scholarly sources because they use agreed-upon rigorous and critical methods.wiseowl

There are, however, times when popular sources are appropriate. Popular sources, such as magazines and newspapers, are very useful for current commentary on a topic or issue.

“Scholarly” and “popular” are terms used to describe a source’s content, purpose, audience and more. Popular sources are useful for getting ideas for a topic or for background and anecdotal information. However, you should support your key arguments by citing scholarly sources, which contain original research written by experts.

 

Tip Box Peer Reviewed” is another term you might hear and this is also a form of scholarly sources. Peer-reviewed journal articles have been evaluated and critiqued by researchers and experts in the same field (hence – by their peers) before the article is published.


Table –The Differences between scholarly and popular sources

Scholarly Popular
Journals Magazines, newspapers
Written for a specialized audience that knows the language of the field/subject/discipline Written for a general audience, with little technical or specialized language
Researched and written by experts in methodologies of a field/subject/discipline Written by someone who knows something about the topic but not necessarily an “expert” (e.g. journalist, teacher, writer)
Published by an academic publisher or for-profit publisher specializing in resources for university students and faculty Published by a commercial publisher whose target market is a general audience
Written for a specialized audience that knows the language of the field/subject/discipline Written for a general audience, with little technical or specialized language
Have footnotes or endnotes and a bibliography/references/works cited page May contain few or no references

Videos

Check out these videos on popular and scholarly sources.

1. Popular vs. Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) Articles (Ryerson University Library). Closed Captioned.

2. Scholarly and Popular Sources (University of Victoria Libraries). Closed Captioned.