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Scholarly Sources: What are scholarly articles?

Find out what scholarly and popular sources are, how to identify them, and why it matters.

Using this guide

If you are using this guide, your professor probably asked you to find scholarly sources. Watch the videos or read the instructions on this guide to learn more about what scholarly sources are and how you can distinguish between scholarly sources and other types of sources. 

Why use scholarly articles?

Wonder why your professor wants you to use scholarly articles? This article will explain why these sources are important and some tips on recognizing what sources are scholarly.

How to evaluate internet sources

Evaluating Sources on the Web by Portland Community College Library explains how to determine what type of source you are looking at when you do a Google search. Also check out their Know Your Sources infographic.

Scholarly vs. Popular Sources

Source Types

Source types are more than just book, journal, webpage, etc. You'll also want to determine if the source is a popular or a scholarly source.

  • Popular sources are everyday sources. They're written and produced to be read by anyone and everyone.
  • Scholarly sources are more selective. They're written and produced to be read by scholars, researchers, students, etc.

Here's a table that illustrates the differences between the two types of sources.

  Popular Scholarly
Purpose current events, entertainment, summary research, communicating information
Audience general scholars, researchers, students
Authors journalists, often unnamed researchers, experts, always named
Characteristics shorter length, informal, few citations longer length, formal, more citations, peer-reviewed*

Peer-reviewed articles have been reviewed and accepted for publication by a selected panel of recognized experts in the field of study covered by the journal (also know as the author's peers).

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