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NURB 361: Introduction to Nursing Research

For Suzi White's students

Scholarly vs. Popular Sources

  Scholarly Popular
Authors: Experts such as scientists, faculty, and historians

Generalists, including bloggers, staff writers, and journalists; not always attributed


Examples: The Library Quarterly, New England Journal of Medicine, Nineteenth Century Literature, and books from university presses such as Oxford University Press. 

Wikipedia,,; People Magazine, USA Today; bestselling books; books from popular publishers like Penguin and Random House


Focus: Specific and in-depth

Broad overviews


Language: Dense; includes academic jargon

Easier to read; defines specialized terms


Format: Almost always include: abstracts, literature reviews, methodologies, results, and conclusions



Citations: Include bibliographies, citations, and footnotes that follow a particular academic style guide

No formal citations included; may or may not informally attribute sources in text 


Before publication: Evaluated by peers (other scholars) 

Edited by in-house editors or not edited at all


Audience: Specialists in the subject area: students, professors and the author's peers

General readers; shouldn't require any special background


Design: Mostly text, with some tables and charts; very little photography; no advertising

Glossy images, attractive design; photo illustrations and advertising are more common



communicating research findings; education


entertainment; news



Entirety of chart comes from Berkeley Library.

Berkeley Library. (2021 Feb 16). Evaluating resources:  Scholarly & popular sources. University of California.