Skip to Main Content

Information Evaluation: Scholarly vs. Popular

Also Known As...

For the purposes of this guide, "scholarly sources" refers to articles in peer-reviewed, academic journals. The terms scholarly journal, academic journal, and peer-reviewed journal are all synonymous and interchangeable. 

Additionally, "popular sources" refers, in large part, to articles found in magazines and newspapers.

Scholarly - Popular Comparison

Things to remember about peer-reviewed (scholarly) articles:

1. Typically written by professors, scholars, professional researchers or experts in the field

2. Before publication, articles are scrutinized by other experts in the same field (that's why we call it "peer review")

3. Because of this rigorous review process, peer-review articles are considered to be among the most authoritative and reliable sources you can choose for your research paper or project

4. Peer reviewed articles usually have a narrow focus, and often report the results of a research study. You must think critically and carefully about how such an article applies to your topic. Often, they can provide excellent examples or case studies to support the arguments or explanations within your research paper.

5. Occasionally, academic/scholarly journals publish articles that have not been peer-reviewed (for example, an editorial opinion piece can be published in a scholarly journal, but the article itself is not "scholarly" because it hasn't been peer-reviewed).

Video (1:32): Scholarly versus Popular Articles

Additional Resources

How to Find Scholarly/Academic Sources

Take a look at the LAVC Library's Finding Articles guide for step-by-step instructions on using our website to find articles in scholarly/academic/peer-reviewed journals.

NOTE: when you use the big search box on the Library's homepage, you are only searching SELECT databases from our full suite of resources. If you want to do more in-depth and advanced searching, try exploring our databases individually. See below for a list of our best individual databases for scholarly/academic/peer-reviewed sources. If you have questions about whether or not a source is scholarly/academic, ask your professor or a Librarian!

Best LAVC Databases For Finding Scholarly/Academic/Peer-reviewed Articles

Video (2:57): What is A Scholarly Journal Article?

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.