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SSH205 Library Instruction

Timeline of Information Creation (Infographic)

Scholarly and Popular Sources

Scholarly Sources

In university, one of the authoritative sources you are asked to use is scholarly journal articles. You will also hear the term “peer reviewed” articles.


Here are some definitions:

Scholarly Journal Articles:  

  • written by experts (majority have advanced degrees)

  • contain original research

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

  • use academic or complex language, and may include disciplinary or theoretical lingo

  • published by a scholarly press that practices editorial review to ensure that content and context adhere to the expected research parameters

  • intended for an audience composed of researchers, scholars, academics, and other informed or specialized readership

Peer Reviewed

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).

Peer Reviewed Explained in 3 Minutes:

From North Carolina State University Library (Closed Captioned)



Popular Sources:

Non-scholarly sources can contain a wealth of well-researched information for your topic, but their intended audience and their review process is different than scholarly sources.

MacLeans Magazine cover with Rob Ford - a popular source


Here are some definitions:

Popular Sources:

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

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

  • rarely cite other sources

  • Magazines, newspapers and books have an editor review the work but are not peer reviewed

  • tend to be short (200-500 words)



Can I use non-scholarly sources?

Yes, but make sure you follow your assignment guidelines. Some assignments will ask you to use a specific number of peer reviewed articles plus sources of your own choice. Just remember to evaluate your sources to ensure they are appropriate.

How to Evaluate your Sources

Evaluating your Sources with the CRAAP Test

From the University of Western Ontario Libraries (Closed Captioned)


C = Currency: 

When was the information published? Is it up to date?

R = Relevance

Is the information what you're really looking for? Who is the material written for: academics, professionals, students, or the general public?

A = Authority:

 Who published, wrote, or edited the information? Is the author an expert on the topic?

A= Accuracy: 

Is the information reliable and accurate? Do other sources verify this information?

P = Purpose: 

What is the purpose of the information? Is it biased to one point of view?


For more info Try our Handout - the PARCA Test (CRAAP) (PDF)  (Accessible Version)

*Emoji courtesy of

Using Popular and Scholarly Sources in your Essay

Module 2: Quiz