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Research Guides

CIN210: Horror Film

Scholarly vs. Popular Sources

Popular (also called non-scholarly) sources inform and entertain the public or allow practitioners to share industry, practice, and production information  Examples: Newspapers, magazines, trade journals, popular books.

Scholarly (also called academic) sources disseminate research and academic discussion among professionals within disciplines; they are intended for university-level study and research, and are preferred when writing university-level essays.  Examples: Journals and books.

Adapted from the CQ University Library.

scholarly vs. popular articles

What is a Scholarly Source?

Scholarly sources are written by academics and other experts and contribute to knowledge in a particular field by sharing new research findings, theories, analyses, insights, news, or summaries of current knowledge.

Scholarly sources can be either primary or secondary research. They can also come in many different formats. Books, articles, and some websites can be scholarly. Remember, there is sometimes a difference between scholarly and peer-reviewed articles; all peer-reviewed sources are scholarly, but not all scholarly sources are  peer-reviewed. 

  1. Accuracy

    • The information should be based on verifiable facts.
    • There should be a bibliography or list of references.
    • There should be no spelling or grammatical errors.
  2. Authority

    • A specific author or team of authors should be listed. 
    • These authors should work at an institution (such as a university or research institute) with a good reputation.
    • The authors' qualifications (PhD, research chair, etc) should be stated.
    • A reliable publisher (such as a book publisher, academic journal, organization's website) should be listed. 
  3. Bias

    • The information should be based on fact, not opinion.
    • There should be no obvious bias.
    • The authors should appeal to the reader's sense of logic, not emotion.
  4. Audience

    • The source should be written for other experts or people who are familiar with the topic.
    • The language should reflect the academic discipline, (e.g, film theorists, etc).



University of Toronto Libraries. “What Counts as a Scholarly Source?” University of Toronto Libraries, Accessed 3 Oct. 2018.