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ENGL 101 - Culminating Project: The Argumentative Synthesis - Stewart - Spring 2022

CampusGuide for Professor Jessica Stewart's English 101 class, Spring 2022

Popular vs. Scholarly Sources

Popular versus Scholarly Sources



  • Broad range of topics, presented in shorter articles
  • Specific, often narrowly focused topics in lengthy, in-depth articles
  • Articles offer an overview of subject matter; reportage, rather than original research; sometimes contain feature articles and reports on current social issues and public opinion
  • Articles often contain previously unpublished research and detail new developments in the field
  • Intended to attract a general readership without any expertise or advanced education
  • Intended for the specialist readership of researchers, academics, students, and professionals
  • Written by staff (not always attributed) or freelance writers using general, popular language
  • Written by specialists and researchers in the subject area, usually employing technical, subject-specific language and jargon
  • Edited and approved for publication in-house (not peer-reviewed)
  • Critically evaluated by peers (fellow scholars) in the field for content, scholarly soundness, and academic value
  • Articles rarely contain references or footnotes and follow no specific format
  • Well-researched, documented articles nearly always follow a standard format: abstract, introduction, literature review, methodology, results, conclusion, bibliography/references
  • Designed to attract the eye of potential newsstand customers: usually filled with photographs or illustrations, printed on glossier paper
  • Sober design: mostly text with some tables or graphs accompanying articles; usually little or no photography; negligible, if any, advertising; rarely printed on high-gloss paper
  • Each issue begins with page number '1'
  • Page numbers of issues within a volume (year) are usually consecutive (i.e., the first page of the succeeding issue is the number following the last page number of the previous issue)
  • Presented to entertain, promote a point of view, and/or sell products
  • Intended to present researchers' findings and conclusions based on original research
  • Examples: Newsweek, Rolling Stone, Vogue
  • Examples: American Sociological ReviewJournal of Popular Culture, Sustainable Agriculture




























From: UC Santa Cruz University Library

This table lists the differences between popular and scholarly sources and is provided by the UC Santa Cruz University Library.

More Information about Popular vs. Scholarly Sources

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Video Source: Carnegie Vincent Library

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