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SPMT 22000 Principles of Coaching & Leadership - Line

Scholarly vs. Popular Sources

Criteria Scholarly Article                                                          Popular Article


Authors are scholars and experts in the field. Authors are always named, and their institutional affiliation is given.    

Authors are staff writers or journalists.


Publishers may be university presses or professional associations. Articles may be edited through the peer-review process by scholars in the same field of study.

Publishers are corporations, working for profit.


Articles are longer with a focus on research projects, methodology and theory. Language is more formal, technical, using discipline specific terminology.


Articles may be shorter with a general focus on the topic and written for news or entertainment value.

Sources Cited


Sources are cited and a bibliography or footnotes provided to document the research.

Sources are not usually cited.


Article may include these sections: abstract, literature review, methodology, results, conclusion, and a bibliography.   

Specific format is not followed.


Audience consists of academics, scholars, researchers, and professionals.

Audience is the general public.

The C. A. R. S. Checklist is another way to evaluate information sources. It asks you to look for Credibility, Accuracy, Reasonableness, and Support before deciding to use or trust an information source.

  • Credibility: Trustworthy source, author’s credentials, evidence of quality control, known or respected authority, organizational support.
    • Goal: an authoritative source, a source that supplies some good evidence that allows you to trust it.
  • Accuracy: Up to date, factual, detailed, exact, comprehensive, audience and purpose reflect intentions of completeness and accuracy.
    • Goal: a source that is correct today (not yesterday), a source that gives the whole truth.
  • Reasonableness: Fair, balanced, objective, reasoned, no conflict of interest, absence of fallacies or slanted tone.
    • Goal: a source that engages the subject thoughtfully and reasonably, concerned with the truth.
  • Support: listed sources, contact information, available corroboration, claims supported, documentation supplied.
    • Goal: a source that provides convincing evidence for the claims made, a source you can triangulate (find at least two other sources that support it). 

Source: Robert Harris, Evaluating Internet Research Sources,

Why isn't there a peer reviewed article about my topic?

Why can't I find a peer reviewed article about my topic? 

When the topic occurred can be one reason why you aren't finding peer reviewed articles or books about your subject. For example, if you want to write about an event or topic that happened last month, there hasn't been enough time for the article to be researched, written, peer reviewed, and published. This graphic gives you an idea of the timeline from when the event occurs to when it might appear in a scholarly (peer reviewed) article or a book:

Timeline of Information Production

Sometimes, a topic, especially topics about pop culture and sports, may not have been studied by academics, and so they have not written an article about that topic for peer review. If you ever have trouble finding articles about your topic, talk to a librarian! We can help!

Peer Review in 3 Minutes

What is Peer Review? How is it different than an Academic Article? Is it? This NC State University Libraries video answers your questions in 3 minutes!

Peer Review in Three Minutes from NC State University Libraries on Vimeo.

Video Transcript.

Using Filters to Find Peer Reviewed Articles in EBSCO Databases

This video reviews refining search results. Skip ahead to about 1:55 to learn how to limit results to Peer Reviewed Sources. 

Evaluating Sources for Credibility

NC State University Libraries created a video to help you determine the credibility of a source.

Evaluating Sources for Credibility from NC State University Libraries on Vimeo.

Video Transcript

Periodical Types

  Magazine Trade Journal
  • Entertainment;
  • General news;
  • Selling products and advertising;
  • Promoting a specific viewpoint.
  • Industry specific news;
  • Reporting trends and new directions (sometimes including original research).
  • Reporting original research and/or experimentation;
  • Offering new information for a specific academic discipline.
  • Short articles;
  • Easy to read;
  • For a general audience.
  • Some short and some longer articles;
  • Harder to read than popular publications, but still fairly easy to read;
  • Makes use of industry-specific vocabulary.
  • Long articles (with occasional exceptions);
  • Make use of discipline-specific vocabulary;
  • For scholars and students of that discipline.
  • Usually staff writers;
  • Qualifications usually not given;
  • May not be identified at all.
  • Mixture of authors, some staff writers, some academics, and some working professionals;
  • Credentials typically given
  • Experts in the field (usually academics);
  • Credentials will be listed;
  • Contact information usually given.
  • Sources/References Cited lists are almost never included;
  • In-text references (ex. “According to experts”) are usually all that is given.
  • Depending upon the subject, Sources/References Cited lists are sometimes given, sometimes not.

Sources are always cited:

  • Footnotes;
  • Endnotes;
  • Bibliography at end of article.
  • Glossy cover and pages;
  • Lots of photos and graphics;
  • Usually attractive and eye-catching.
  • Glossy cover and pages;
  • Lots of photos and graphics;
  • Usually attractive and eye-catching;
  • Will typically look like a magazine.
  • Typically dull covers and pages;
  • Few or no photos and graphics (depends on discipline);
  • May have identical cover design from issue to issue.
  • Many advertisements (sometimes more ads than articles);
  • Advertising a wide variety of unrelated products.
  • Many advertisements, usually (but not always) related to the topic of the periodical;
  • Sometimes advertising a wide variety of unrelated products.
  • Few or no advertisements;
  • Advertised products relate to the topic of the periodical.