Types of Sources - Scholarly vs. Popular

Two major types of resources that you may consider using in writing an academic paper are books and journals. Books and articles can be “scholarly” or “popular”; understanding the difference is critical!


As a university student you are a scholar. You are conducting research, thinking critically and adding to the scholarly conversation through your written work. Your professor is likely to ask you to use scholarly resources, which may include academic books and journal articles written by experts or scholars in a specific field. Professors prefer scholarly sources because they have used agreed-upon rigorous and critical methods.  

There are, however, times when popular sources are appropriate. Popular sources, such as magazines and newspapers, are very useful for current commentary on a topic or issue.

Click the button below to learn more about the difference between scholarly and popular sources.