Answered By: Gabe Gossett
Last Updated: Jan 14, 2016     Views: 510

Popular sources tend to be the type of source many of us are most familiar with, including news articles, magazines, and much of the content found on Internet sites.

Here is a table describing the difference between popular and scholarly sources.

Popular and Scholarly Sources

Many of the assignments for your courses may ask you to use specific sources or types of sources such as popular magazine articles or scholarly or professional journal articles. There are some basic ways that you can identify these types of periodicals.

Type of Source Popular Magazines Trade Journals   Scholarly Journals
Examples
The Economist, Psychology Today, Time, National Geographic
Advertising Age, The CPA Journal, Billboard, American Libraries
Journal of the History of Ideas, College English, Antiquity, Science
Audience
For the general public; use language understood by the average reader
For those in a particular trade or industry
For students, scholars, researchers; uses specialized vocabulary of the discipline
Content
May report research as news items,feature stories, editorials and opinion pieces
Reports on problems or issues in a particular industry
Reports original research, theory; may include an abstract
Appearance
Highly visual, a lot of advertising, color, photos, short articles with no bibliographies or references
Visual, contains advertising, color, photos,
Little or no advertising, has tables & charts, high concentration of print, lengthy articles, bibliographies & references
Authors
Author may not be named, frequently a staff writer, not a subject expert
Staff writers, freelance authors
Authors are specialists, articles are signed, & credentials such as degrees, university affiliation are often given.

If you would like to know how to search for popular sources in the Western Libraries' databases contact a librarian using the information provided on the right.

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