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CYSG110 Research Guide

Quick Summary: Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) and Popular Sources

"Scholarly" sources are

  • Written by experts (majority have advanced degrees),

  • Contain original research,

  • Cite other sources extensively throughout their work and contain works cited section

Peer reviewed articles are scholarly articles that have undergone a review process by other experts in the field before being published (hence - reviewed by their peers).


Popular” sources are

  • magazines, newspapers, books, websites, Youtube, trade journals etc.,.

  • written or produced for a general audience and informal in tone and scope.

  • reviewed by an editor but rarely cite other sources,

  • not peer reviewed



More Information:

Scholarly (peer reviewed) Sources vs Popular Sources (In depth)

Evaluating your Sources

How to search 

Scholarly vs popular: an example

In the above examples, we can see two very different treatments of the same topic: racial bias in the use of force in the prison system. 

The example on the left is a scholarly article. It is written by Susan McNeeley, a Sr. Research Analyst at the Minnesota Department of Corrections. McNeely has an extensive research record that is available on Google Scholar. It is the result of a large scale study that examined 500 incidents that occurred at an all-male, maximum security prison in order to test for racial differences in use of force. The research methods are thoroughly explained, the results of the study presented and subsequently analyzed in the context of existing research on the subject. Ultimately, this study contributes to an evidence base that reveals trends in the use of force, and the correlation to race, as explained in the Discussion and Conclusion section. It is supported by an extensive Bibliography

The example on the right is from APTN News - a media outlet that covers news from an Indigenous perspective. The example article/video is written by journalists Kathleen Martens and Fraser Needham, both with extensive experience as journalists. The news item they have produced is reporting on the conclusions drawn by Ivan Zinger, the Correctional Investigator of Canada, indicating that federal inmates who are Black, Indigenous, or people of colour are more likely to experience the use of force during their time in prison. Martens and Needham also reported on the reactions to this report from several angles, including the Assistant Commissioner of Correctional Operations, CSC’s Indigenous Initiatives Directorate and The Native Women’s Association of Canada. This journalistic treatment of an issue is relatively brief compared to the scholarly article, but it is balanced in its presentation of various perspectives, and provides timely access to information about a current issue. It is written in an accessible manner that is intended to appeal to a general audience