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Identify Sources: Primary or Secondary/Scholarly or Popular/Peer-Reviewed: Scholarly or Popular ?

How to identify sources

What is this page for?

Help with identifying if a source is SCHOLARLY (academic) or POPULAR (usually not academic)

Peer Reviewed (Scholarly) Sources vs. Popular Sources (4:11 min.)

How Library Stuff Works: Scholarly vs Popular Sources (2:06 min.)

Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution from McMaster Libraries

Checklist for Determing a Scholarly Source

Peer Review in 3 Minutes

Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution from libncsu

Elements of a scholarly article: an in-depth look

What is a Peer Reviewed (aka Scholarly) source?

Scholarly, Popular, or Trade?

Different types of publications have different purposes and different audiences. When we talk about periodicals, we can usually divide these publications into three broad categories: scholarly, popular, and trade publications. 

  Scholarly Journals Popular Magazines Trade Journals
Purpose Informs and reports on original research done by scholars and experts in the field.  Published by professional organizations, university presses, and research institutes. Entertains and informs a general audience without providing in-depth analysis.  Published by commercial presses. Reports on industry trends and new products or techniques useful to people in a trade or business. Published by commercial presses or industry associations.
Authors Articles are written by subject specialists and experts in the field.  Reviewed by experts (peer review) not employed by the journal. Articles are written by journalists, freelance writers, or an editorial staff.  No peer-review process. Articles are written by specialists in a certain field or industry as well as journalists.  No peer-review process.
Audience Intended for a limited audience - researchers, scholars, and experts. Intended for a broad segment of the population, appealing to a general audience. Intended for practitioners in a particular profession, business, or industry.

Journal of Biochemistry

American Sociological Review

Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly

U.S. News and World Report

Reader's Digest

Rolling Stone

CMA Today

Advertising Age


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