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ECG 100: Source Types: Popular / Scholarly

Ways of classifying sources: scholarly/popular; primary/secondary/tertiary; biased/unbiased; news/editorial


What are they?

 Any publication that does not fit the definition of a scholarly source is technically a popular source. Common popular sources used in academic writing include reputable news magazines such as Time Magazine or The New Yorker or Newspapers of Record such as The New York Times or The Washington Post. Business, entertainment, sports and other more specialized publications also fall under the category of "popular". Some popular sources are political in nature and have a clear liberal or conservative bias. 

Most popular sources contain photographs and advertisements. Articles do not usually have references at the end. Length can vary, but often article length is a few pages or less. 

Where are they published? 

At one time, popular sources would have been primarily purchased in print form at news stands or the checkout line or through home-based subscriptions. Many people still subscribe to popular sources, but many people choose to access popular sources through the internet. In some cases if you are not a paid subscriber you may not have full access to content. Often however, you can read articles for free online. Sometimes popular sources are accessed through social media and it is not always clear where the article originated. 

How to evaluate? 



What are they? 

A scholarly journal is a publication organized around a specific discipline or subject area containing content written by experts or scholars in a field. Typically, articles go through a rigorous peer review editing process. 

Most scholarly sources do not contain color photographs, although they may contain data and graphs. Article length is generally substantial and include extensive references at the end. 

Where are they published? 

Scholarly journals may be available on print, or just in digital format. Those who work in a particular field or discipline may subscribe to a journal on their topic, often however, researchers access articles via databases. 

How to evaluate? 

Where does this source fit within the scholarly communication on this topic? Consider the research question -- is it well articulated? How well is the question answered? What methodology did the authors use (how was research conducted?) Is this source relevant to your topic? 


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