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Introduction to Research: Humanities and Social Sciences

Scholarly vs. Popular Sources

Scholarly sources are authoritative, because they are
  • Written by experts in a field of study
  • The result of research
  • Reviewed and evaluated by other subject experts
    Intended for an academic audience (i.e. researchers, professors, and students)
Popular sources are less credible, because they are
  • Written by authors who are not experts in the field
  • Not reviewed and evaluated by experts in the field
  • Intended for the general public
  • Informal in tone and scope
  Scholarly Publications Popular Publications
Appearance simple layout with serious appearance and dense text - main attraction is the articles colourful, glossy, photos, illustrations, advertisements
Audience scholars, researchers, students and well-educated public general public
Authors scholars, professional practitioners journalists, professional and amateur writers who lack subject expertise
Review Process works published after review by credible scholars in the discipline (peer review) works reviewed by publication editors
Research Documentation footnotes and bibliographies cite the author's research information sources are rarely cited
Language technical language in the specialized vocabulary of the discipline covered simple, non-technical language
Purpose/Intent Present cutting-edge research specific to the field to inform or entertain the reader, sell products, and/or promote a viewpoint
Examples Canadian Journal of Political Science, Shakespeare Quarterly, French Historical Studies Newsweek, Sports Illustrated, Vogue, People