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Scholarly Sources

Scholarly and Non-Scholarly Sources

You are likely very familiar with popular sources, which are intended for a general audience, such as newspapers, magazines, and most websites. In comparison, scholarly sources are intended for an academic audience, such as professors, researchers, and college students, and they can take the form of journal articles, books, and book chapters. Trade publications are written for professionals in a specific field and are more focused than popular sources, but they are not scholarly.

Depending on your research topic and the requirements of your assignment, you may be able to use both scholarly and non-scholarly sources. Since non-scholarly sources are not subject to the same level of review before publication as scholarly sources, be sure to evaluate them before incorporating them in your project.

Comparing Article Sources

The UW-Green Bay Library databases include articles from several types of sources. This table can help you understand the different types of articles by comparing their characteristics.

  Scholarly Journals Trade Publications Magazines Newspapers

Scholarly
Yes No No No

Purpose
To advance knowledge in a field of study, often in the form of original research or analysis To discusses current trends, news and products in a specific field To inform, entertain, or persuade on a variety of topics To inform, entertain, or persuade regarding news and current events

Format
Lengthy articles with abstracts, methods, results, conclusions, and bibliography Medium-length articles Short and sometimes medium-length articles Short articles

Authors
Scholars, professors, or researchers in the field Staff, scholars, professionals in the field, or freelance writers with subject expertise Publication's staff or freelance writers Publication's staff, newswires, freelance writers, or syndicated columnists

Language
Terminology and jargon of the field Appropriate for an educated readership Generally simple language Generally simple language

Audience
Scholars, professors, researchers, college students Professionals in a particular industry General public General public

Graphics
Graphics, charts, and photographs included to convey information Photographs, illustrations, charts, and tables; may be informative or decorative Photographs, illustrations, drawings, charts and advertisements Photographs, illustrations, drawings, and charts, and advertisements

Sources
Always include in-text citations with reference lists at the end Occasional short reference lists Rarely lists sources; information often comes from interviews Rarely lists sources; information often comes from interviews

Examples
Nature, The New England Journal of Medicine, Journal of Communication, Computers & Education Adweek, Social Work Today, Minority Nurse, Industrial Engineer Time, Newsweek, Sports Illustrated, Popular Science New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Green Bay Press-Gazette