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Last Updated: Nov 14, 2017 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

Scholarly and Peer-reviewed Sources Print Page

Scholarly vs. Popular Sources

Popular sources are useful for getting ideas for a topic or for background and anecdotal information.

Typically, however, you should support your arguments by citing scholarly sources, which contain original research written by experts.  Many article databases allow you to limit your results to scholarly or peer-reviewed sources.

Here are some of the major differences between scholarly and popular sources:

Scholary Sources:

  • Are written by scholars in a particular field
  • Have bibliographies and/or cite sources
  • Present articles based on research by authorities in a field (not personal opinions)
  • Use a specialized vocabulary
  • Are often "peer reviewed" or approved by a group of experts


Popular Sources:

  • Are targeted toward a general audience
  • Often have a great deal of advertising
  • Rarely include references to other works
  • Are written by journalists and staff writers
  • May include opinions on current issues


Scholarly vs. Popular

Created by the Georgia State University Library


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