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While many of our library databases allow you to filter your search results to scholarly articles, it is still helpful to know the differences between popular and scholarly sources to ensure that you are fulfilling your assignment requirements. This chart summarizes some of the main distinctions between the two types of sources.
staff writers, reporters, or freelance journalists
researchers, experts in a particular field
academics, someone familiar with the field
easy to understand and nontechnical
discipline-specific, often contains jargon
Length & scope
short, provides a broad overview of a topic
lengthy, provides in-depth coverage and analysis of a topic
Citation & research
rarely cites sources and often reports on research conducted by others
cites sources and provides extensive references, often presents original research
corporate or nonprofit organizations
universities and other educational institutions as well as professional, nonprofit associations
Scholarly Peer-Reviewed Journals
One specific type of scholarly source that you are often asked to use for research projects is a peer-reviewed journal. In addition to being written by a scholar, peer reviewed journal articles are also reviewed by other scholars in a particular field (i.e. one's peers) before they are published. Peer review is an extra level of quality control and adds to the credibility of the source. Watch this video to find about more about peer review and how to identify a peer-reviewed journal article.