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History of the United States Colonial Period - Reconstruction: Scholarly vs. Non-Scholarly Popular Sources

This LibGuide will assist students in the locating of sources in print and online.

Scholarly vs. Non-Scholarly Popular Sources Whats the Difference?


Scholarly or Academic sources:

Their purpose is to share information within the subject field and are they based on original research and experimentation. They are suitable for academics, and are supported by a system of learning and study.  They are less widely circulated than popular sources and may be understandable only to those who work or study in a particular field. In addition, scholarly sources are juried either through peer review or the referee process.

  • Peer-Reviewed: When an article is Peer-Reviewed, the editors of the journal wishing to publish the item send it to scholars in the relevant field; e.g., an article about Biology would go to other biologists.  These scholars provide feedback about the article's pertinence to scholarship in their field, the quality of research and presentation of findings, and more.  This ensures that the articles that wind up in academic journals have scholastic merit and contribute to the overall research in the field. Articles will include

  • Refereed: A Refereed Article is also referred to other scholars in the field.  However, in this instance, the reviews are blind.  In other words, the academic peers conducting the review do not know the name of the work's author.  In addition, it is often the case that the reviewers' names are not made known to the author.  This ensures that the work is judged solely on its own merit rather than the author's reputation.  In addition, the manuscript must be reviewed by at least two other people.

Non-Scholarly Popular sources: are widely available, usually cheaper to acquire, and can be understood by almost every person with basic literacy skills. They are commonly found in grocery stores, and public libraries. They tend to promulgate known ideas and theories. These works may be professionally edited, but do not go through a peer- reviewed refereed process.

Some Points to Remember

Both magazine and journal articles can be good sources for your work. 

When selecting articles, think about how you intend to use the information: 

Do you want background on a topic new to you? (use magazines)  

Did your professor say to use scholarly resources? 

(use academic journals)  

Often a combination of the two will be most appropriate for undergraduate research. 

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