​Understanding the difference between a scholarly and popular source is a crucial step in evaluatingwhether a source is credible.

Scholarly Sources​

Scholarly sources are written by highly qualified researchers and have a thorough publication process, which usually involves peer-reviewing and an extensive list of references at the end of the text. Scholarly sources often have a specific audience in mind, most likely other experts in the particular field of study. Examples of scholarly sources include books and academic journals written by scholars and experts.

Popular Sources​​​

Popular sources, on the other hand, are written by and intended for a general audience. Popular sources are not peer-reviewed, and they do not usually include a reference list. Examples of popular sources range from some books and magazines to websites and blogs.

​​​​Is My Source Scholarly?

If you're unsure whether the source you're reading is scholarly or popular, ask yourself these questions:

  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Does the author have credentials?
  • Is the text peer-reviewed?
  • Is there a reference list or works cited page?

Can I Use Popular Sources in Academic Writing?​

When searching for sources, different topics might require more scholarly sources or more popular sources. For example, if you were researching the effects of a certain treatment for cancer patients, you would most likely turn to scholarly sources written by experts. However, if you wanted to examine how different news outlets and social media sites portrayed a recent presidential debate, you would instead turn to popular sources.