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Biology

What's the difference between scholarly and popular sources?

You ask: My professor says I have to use 3 scholarly sources. What does this mean?

We answer: When doing research for your courses, it is important to know the difference between journal articles and magazine/newspaper articles. Journal articles which are written by experts in the given field, are considered “scholarly”. Scholarly articles are also referred to as “peer reviewed” articles because they have been reviewed and critiqued by the author’s “peers” (experts in the same subject area). Popular sources, on the other hand, refers to general interest publications like magazines and newspaper for the public.

Comparison Chart

  Scholarly Source Popular Source
                        Image result for journal of neuroscience                             Image result for time magazine
Content (accuracy)

In-depth with original (primary) research

with goal of scholarly communication.

Secondary research (discussion of someone else's

research) including news reporting, narratives, or

opinions for the purpose of informing or entertaining

Author (authority) Usually a scholar or specialist in the subject area

Usually a journalist or professional in the field paid

to write articles with no or some subject expertise

Audience (coverage) Scholars, researchers, and students General public
References (objectivity)

Required with documentation of sources

in the appropriate style (e.g., Chicago, MLA, etc.);

facts and quotes are verifiable.   

Not required; source materials are not often provided
Other Examples

Journal of International Development,

The American Economic Review, PLOS One,

JAMA *Most titles containing the word "Journal"

National Geographic, Scientific American, Discover,

Sports Illustrated, Newsweek

Acknowledgement: Adapted from the chart created by Middlebury Libraries.