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HIS388H5: The Histories of Modern Hinduism in South Asia

A guide to assist students with research for the course

Comparing Scholarly and Non-Scholarly Materials


Non-Scholarly/Popular Source

Academic/Scholarly Source


A journalist or feature writer; names are not always noted.

A respected scholar or researcher in the field; an expert in the topic; names and affiliations are always noted.


General public

Scholars or researchers in the field or those interested in the topic at a research level; university students.


To entertain or inform in a broad, general sense.

To share with other scholars the results of primary research & experiments.


Articles (usually brief) are written in simple language—no specialized knowledge is needed in order to read an article.

Articles are glossy and attention-grabbing, using many adjectives, and generally contain (unrelated) photos and great quantities of advertisements.

Language is formal, analytical, and academic; usually contains discipline-specific jargons.


Often presented in story format, with anecdotes from other people.

Information often second or third-hand, and the originality of the source is often obscure.

Articles (are supposed to) present original research studies.

Formal presentation of scholarly work in a standard style; often an abstract at the beginning of the article.

Articles may have section headings, such as literature review, methodology, results, discussion/further study.


Very uncommon; text may contain vague referrals to "a study published at..." or "researchers found that..." with no other details about that information.

Standard element; references are always cited and expected; can also be called "works cited," or "bibliographies;" text often contains footnotes.


A commercial publisher; self-published.

A university press; a professional association or known (independent) scholarly publisher.

Review Process

Articles are reviewed by the editorial staff, including copyediting, proofreading, etc.

A fact-checking and verification by another expert are rarely available.

Scholarly articles go through a peer review (referee) process where other scholars who are experts in the field evaluate the content of the article; copyediting and proofreading are provided after the editorial/peer-review process.

— Writing both non-scholarly and scholarly pieces of writing requires a set of skills, knowledge and experience. However, a review process in academia (e.g., Duke University Press ➤ ➤ Current Authors - Review Process) makes a significant difference in the quality of the contents.
— Reports brought by correspondents or on-the-scene reporters are often valuable and bring different values and viewpoints to the information landscape.

Source: Adapted from the Valparaiso University Library