Difference Between Scholarly and Popular Sources

Key Difference – Scholarly vs Popular Sources
 

 

When we seek information for research and other educational purposes, we tend to rely on scholarly and popular sources. Between these two forms, a number of differences can be identified. Scholarly sources mainly refer to the variety of articles, journals, books, and other publications that are written by experts in the field. On the other hand, popular sources refer to publications such as newspapers and magazines that are written by journalists and professional writers. The key difference between scholarly sources and popular sources is that while scholarly sources are accurate and reliable, hence they are under review, popular sources may not always be so. This article attempts to highlight the differences between scholarly and popular sources in detail.

What are Scholarly Sources?

Scholarly sources include articles, journals, books and other publications. These are written by experts in the field such as professors, researchers, scholars, etc. Hence, the documents tend to be more original as they consist of a clear scientific basis. Scholarly sources are especially beneficial to those who belong to a particular discipline as it allows them to gain literature.

These documents consist of a technical language and include a lot of subject-specific jargon. The articles are very specific and include a lot of citation in the form of references and footnotes. Most of the scholarly sources are published by university presses and other scholarly societies.

Key Difference - Scholarly vs Popular Sources

What are Popular Sources?

Popular sources refer to publications such as newspapers and magazines that are written by journalists and professional writers. Popular sources have a simple language as they are aimed at a general audience. In popular sources we do not see many citations; hence the reliability is often in question.

Popular sources can be useful if a person is interested in gaining a general understanding of a subject. These usually do not consist of any in-depth analysis of the topic. Popular sources are published by commercial publishers. One can notice many pictures and advertisements in popular sources. They can even voice individual opinions of the writer as well.

Difference Between Scholarly and Popular Sources

What is the difference between Scholarly and Popular Sources?

Definitions of Scholarly and Popular Sources:

Scholarly Sources: Scholarly sources refer to the variety of articles, journals, books, and other publications that are written by experts in the field.

Popular Sources: Popular sources refer to publications such as newspapers and magazines that are written by journalists and professional writers.

Characteristics of Scholarly and Popular Sources:

Language:

Scholarly Sources: Academic writing and field related jargon is used.

Popular Sources: A simple language is used instead of technical language.

Author:

Scholarly Sources: Scholarly sources are authored by experts in the field.

Popular Sources: Popular sources are authored by journalists and professional writers.

Examples:

Scholarly Sources: Journals, academic articles, research publications are some examples for scholarly sources.

Popular Sources: Newspapers and magazines are examples for popular sources.

Citation:

Scholarly Sources: Sources are clearly cited.

Popular Sources: Citation cannot be seen in all situations. Hence, the reliability of the document is relatively low.

 

Image Courtesy:

1. “Binding Annual Review of Sociology” by Cécile Duteille – Own work. [CC BY-SA 3.0] via Commons

2. “Zeitschriften“. [CC BY-SA 3.0] via Commons