Skip to Main Content

Distinguish Scholarly vs. Popular Sources: Sources

Describes what a popular and scholarly source is. What is peer review? Other items to consider. Links to other resources.

What Is a Scholarly Source?

A scholarly source:

  • Is a publication, such as a journal, that includes papers and articles, which record and discuss the results of original research
  • Is written by and for faculty, researchers or scholars (physicists, historians, economists, psychologists, etc.) 
  • Uses scholarly or technical language
  • Usually contains longer articles about research
  • Includes full citations for sources
  • Qualifications/credentials of the author(s) are given in the paper
  • Are often refereed or peer reviewed
 Examples of Scholarly Resources
Journal of Comparative Psychology Journal of Commercial Biotechnology Econometric Theory Past & Present
Journal of Comparative Psychology Journal of Commercial Biotechnology Econometric Theory Past & Present







What Is "Peer Review"?

Peer Review is the process by which an article is evaluated by a group of specialists in its given field prior to being "accepted" for publication.

It attempts to certify that published articles meet a standard of accuracy, originality, and scholarly integrity.

Watch the video below and please check with a librarian to get help in finding peer reviewed material. They are happy to help.

The University of Western Ontario

What Is a Popular Source?

A popular source:

  • Is a publication, such as a newspaper or magazine that you could buy in a grocery store
  • Is often illustrated with colorful pictures and advertisements.  Is many times written by journalists or professional writers for a general audience
  • Uses language that is easily understood by general readers and is written for the public
  • Rarely gives full citations for sources, though sources may be quoted
  • Is usually shorter than journal articles
 Examples of Popular Resources
Bloomberg Businessweek National Geographic Runner's World Time
 Bloomberg Businessweek  National Geographic Runner's World  Time 










Keep In Mind

Book reviews and editorials are not considered scholarly articles, even when found in scholarly journals.

Both magazine and journal articles may be acceptable sources for your work, always check with your professor.

Watch this video for additional information.


Research Minutes is a series for undergraduate students at Cornell University covering library research topics. This segment discusses how to recognize and find scholarly journal articles.