Scholarly vs Popular Sources
In academic assignments and writing, we need to use scholarly sources, so it is important to know the difference between scholarly and popular sources.
Which sources are scholarly and which are popular? Click on the images below to learn more
Examples of popular and scholarly resources:
Popular: Science magazine, newspaper, science blog, non-fiction book
Scholarly: Academic journal, textbook, dictionary
What’s the difference between a scholarly and a popular source?
Scholarly sources — Scholarly sources present original research (in an article or thesis) or compile research (in a textbook, dictionary or encyclopedia). They are written by researchers or scholars and are designed for an academic audience. Scholarly resources use specialized, scientific vocabulary. Scholarly resources contain references to back up information and they are considered to be reliable resources.
Popular sources — Popular sources present information with the intent of informing or entertaining. Popular sources do not contain original research but can summarize or report on original research. They are written by non-experts for a wide audience. Popular sources use accessibly language. Popular sources to not usually contain references and they are not considered to be a reliable academic source.
This chart covers the characteristics of popular and scholarly sources
|Content||Contains original research data||Covers popular interest topics|
|Authors||Expert scholars with their credentials listed||Not experts, often journalists or writers|
|Audience||Scholars, researchers||General public|
|Purpose||To share research findings and expand knowledge
||To inform or entertain
|Style||Straight forward design with complex language||Flashy, eye catching design with accessible language|
|References||Contains references||No references|
|Peer-review||Articles are peer-reviewed||Articles are not peer-reviewed|