The table below shows which characteristics are more commonly associated with scholarly or popular sources. Both scholarly and popular sources can be appropriate for your research purposes, depending on your research topic/question and your assignment parameters.
|Authors:||Experts such as scientists, faculty, practitioners, and historians||Usually generalists, including bloggers, staff writers, and journalists; not always attributed|
|Examples:||Children's Literature Association Quarterly (ChLAQ); Journal of Public Child Welfare; The Future of Children; Youth & Society; books from University presses such as Oxford University Press and the University of California Press||Boston Globe; New York Times; Wikipedia; CNN.com; Time Magazine; bestselling books; books from popular/trade publishers like Penguin and Random House|
|Focus:||Usually specific and in-depth||Often broad overviews or opposing viewpoints|
|Language:||Dense; includes academic jargon||Easier to read; defines specialized terms|
|Citations:||Include bibliographies, citations, and footnotes that follow a particular academic style guide||No formal citations included; may or may not informally attribute sources in text|
|Pre-publication:||Very often evaluated by peers/other scholars (peer-reviewed or peer-refereed)||Edited by in-house editors or not edited at all|
|Audience:||Specialists in the subject area: students, professors and the author's peers||General readers; usually doesn't require any special background|
|Purpose:||Communicating research findings; education||Inform, entertain; provide news/updates|
Grey Literature refers to reports, conference proceedings, preprints, working papers, theses, dissertations, personal communications, technical notes" and other ephemeral scientific sources, often published by government, business or academic organizations. This kind of literature can be key for emerging research and alternative perspectives.
Government Publications are a subset of grey literature, and can be important sources for state, federal, and international perspectives on official government proceedings of all kinds.
Tertiary Sources refer to encyclopedias, dictionaries, textbooks and other reference materials that provide broad overviews of particular topics. Where secondary sources summarize and interpret an event or phenomenon, tertiary sources summarize and interpret other resources. They can be a great place to begin studying unfamiliar topics.
Trade Literature refers to journals, websites, newsletters and other sources aimed at professionals in a particular field. These sources will often report news and trends in the field, reviews of products related to the industry at hand, interviews with leaders in the field, as well as job listings and advertisements.
What is Google Scholar?
Google Scholar searches for scholarly literature in a simple, familiar way. You can search across many disciplines and sources at once to find articles, books, theses, court opinions, and content from academic publishers, professional societies, some academic web sites, and more.
Stuff you can do:
Stuff you can't do: