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ENGL 165 Clay: Types of Sources


Scholarly or popular? Why is it important to know which is which?

Your instructors will specify if they want you to cite academic sources. If you are unsure whether your instructor will accept popular sources as well, please ask.  In order to properly cite a source, you need to identify its publication type. In a college database, you won't have a cover to judge an article by, so you'll need to know that journals usually have the word "journal" in the title of their publication; for example, Journal of Criminal Justice.


What makes them different: Scholarly vs. popular

Periodicals are published at regular intervals. The chief difference between scholarly, also called academic or peer-reviewed, articles and popular sources is the amount of time an article spends being edited and reviewed. Newspapers come out every day; academic journals, two or four times a year. In short:

  • Newspapers are published daily or weekly.
  • Magazines generally publish weekly or monthly
  • Journals publish quarterly or only twice a year.


Scholarly vs. popular sources

Scholarly vs. popular sources

Instructors asking you to use credible sources may also use to evaluate your citations to see whether you use scholarly, academic or peer-reviewed, or popular. See the box below to determine whether a source is "scholarly" or "popular."