⭐ This section is required for all FSEM students ⭐
Information from experts is more valuable than information from non-experts. This is one reason why professors ask you to cite scholarly sources, as opposed to popular sources.
What's the difference?
The most common kind of scholarly source is an article published in a journal (a.k.a. a "scholarly journal" or "academic journal"). Journals are similar to magazines. Like a magazine, a journal is published in issues. Each issue contains articles, and new issues are published periodically. However, journals are scholarly sources and magazines are popular sources.
Most journals are peer-reviewed, which means that, before an article is published in the journal, it is reviewed by other experts, who check the article for errors and suggest improvements. Peer-review is how journals ensure that their articles are high-quality. Magazines are not peer-reviewed. See here for more information about journals and peer review.
Use these guidelines to tell the difference between journals and magazines:
Research results, reviews of research
News and general interest articles
|Audience||Scholars, researchers, professionals||General public|
|Authors||Subject experts, faculty, scientists||Journalists, freelance writers|
|Purpose||To share research or scholarship||To inform, entertain, or elicit an emotional response|
|Review Process||Editorial board, Peer-reviewed (subject experts)||Staff editors, not subject experts|
|Language||Specialized terminology or jargon of the field||Easily understandable to most readers|
|References||Bibliographies, footnotes, endnotes||No bibliographies|
|Advertisements||Few or none||Many|
|Frequency||Quarterly or semi-annual||Weekly or monthly|
|Length||Tend to be long||Tend to be short|
Watch this video from the University of Houston Libraries for an overview of the differences between scholarly and popular sources.
Is it ever okay to cite a popular source?
Yes, in one particular way: Popular sources can provide evidence for you to analyze.
When you use a popular source in this way, you're using it as a primary source. Click here for more information about primary sources.