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Evaluating Sources of Information

Sources should be considered for currency, relevance, authority, accuracy, objectivity and purpose.

Video - Learn the visual cues to differentiate between popular and scholarly sources.

Popular vs Scholarly

Summary:  Periodicals, also called serials, are titles published more than once throughout the year (e.g., daily, weekly, monthly). Three main categories of periodicals exist, each with a different purpose and audience in mind. You can search Ulrich'sWeb Global Serials Directory to find the content type and the context for 300,000 periodical titles worldwide. Or to find those titles to which SPC specifically subscribes, you can search and gain their access through Journals A-Z

Popular Sources

  • Popular sources include news and magazines.
    News includes the latest information on general interest topics, such as political events, crime, sports, and arts/entertainment.
  • Magazines include in-depth articles on current events (e.g., Newsweek or Time) or specific interests (e.g., Car & Driver, Sports Ilustrated, or The Economist).

Trade Publications

  • These are often referred to as trade journals or trade magazines. 
  • The target audience for trade publications is business and industry professionals.
  • The content is written by representatives in the specific field the publication covers.   
  • The articles are relatively short and focus on trends, products, and organizational news.
  • Examples include APA Monitor, Advertising Age, Investment Week, and Mediaweek.  

Scholarly Sources

  • Scholarly sources include academic and peer-reviewed journals, written by expert researchers for students, researchers, and scholars studying the field the journal covers. 
  • Journal articles present original research, theory, experimentation, methodology, or application and practice within a niche field.
  • Peer-reviewed journals--sometimes referred to as academic, refereed, or juried journals--include scholarly articles reviewed by an editorial board and a committee of academic peers or referees prior to their acceptance for publication. These reviewers must agree that the article represents properly conducted original research or writing before publication. 
  • Examples include American Psychologist, College English, JAMA, and Nature. 

    Databases often have features that limit your results specifically for Peer Reviewed Journals.  See and enlarge the thumbnail, at left, from EBSCO database search interfaces.