Answered By: Research Librarian
Last Updated: Jan 10, 2023     Views: 149

To learn how to identify if a source is scholar or not you need to learn the difference between scholarly and popular sources. The table below explains this. 

Scholarly sources Popular Sources
Longer articles from discipline-specific journals Shorter articles from newspapers or magazines
Provide the author's qualifications or credentials Are written by journalists or professional writers
Contains technical or discipline-specific language Contains language easily understood by the general public
Includes full citations for sources Rarely gives full citations for sources
Typically is not colorful and does not include advertisements Is colorful and contains many advertisements


Peer reviewed sources contain the same characteristics as scholarly sources, BUT these articles also undergo a review and evaluation by a group of discipline specialists, before they are accepted for publication.

Some databases provide the option to limit your search to return only scholarly, peer-reviewed results. However, the database may not make a distinction between which articles are scholarly and which are peer-reviewed. To determine if an article comes from a peer-reviewed journal, you may need to go to the publications website;  it should indicate if the articles published are peer reviewed.

Most often books are not considered peer review, since they go through a different publication process than journal articles.








For additional information check out the LibGuide Distinguish Scholarly vs. Popular Sources.