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Information Literacy

This is a learning guide designed to teach students about information literacy and why it matters.

Popular vs. Scholarly Sources

It's likely that you will be asked by your instructors to use scholarly sources to do some of your assignments. A scholarly sources differs from a popular source. Review the following chart to learn about their differences. 

Popular Sources

Scholarly Sources

For general public


Written by experts for experts in the field

Broad range of topics


Focused, specialized topic

Short articles


Lengthy research articles

Not peer-reviewed


Sources not always cited Extensive list of sources cited as references

Designed to appeal visually; usually supported by photographs

or illustrations and possibly advertisements

Standard scholarly formatting;

may be supported with graphs or tables

Purpose is to entertain, promote a point of view,

or sell products

Purpose is to present the findings of research
Examples: Newsweek, Rolling Stone, Vogue

Examples: New England Journal of Medicine,

Journal of Public Health Policy


Source: UC Santa Cruz University Library

Source: Zachary Sharrow | Andrews Library, The College of Wooster