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Scholarly vs popular sources

Scholarly sources

  • Written by experts
  • Reviewed by other experts
  • Written for scholars and students
  • Reports original research

Popular sources

  • Written by journalists
  • Reviewed by an editor
  • Written for the general public
  • Reports news, informs, entertains, persuades...


Criteria for evaluating sources


  • Who is the author of the source?
  • Are they a qualified expert on the topic? What are their credentials/organizational affiliation?
  • Who is the publisher or sponsor of the source? Are they reputable and reliable?


  • What is the intended purpose of the source?

             - To inform or educate?       - To persuade?       - To entertain?       - To sell a product?

  • Who is the intended audience of the source?
  • Is there evidence of any potential biases?


  • Is the information accurate? How was the information generated? (original research? opinion?)
  • Are sources of information properly referenced?
  • What review process has the information gone through before it was published? (peer review? editor?)

Search tips

  • Use quotation marks around your search terms to search for an exact phrase
    • Ex: "industrial design" "The Line"
  • Use synonyms and related terms
  • Try adding more search terms or specific terms to narrow your search
  • Use an asterisk (*) after the root of a search term to include multiple endings
    • Ex: Searching design* will find design, designer, designers, designation, etc.
  • Type NOT before a search term to exclude it from the results
    • Ex: design* NOT designation


Help with research and citation

  • The Service Desk in the library lobby (open hours on library homepage)
  • Chat reference service - Click the blue circle chat button on the bottom right of any library webpage
  • Contact me (Peter Houston) at or (403) 440-5197
  • For citation and writing help, Student Learning Services offers appointments with their Writing & Learning Specialists.
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Peter Houston

Phone: 403.440.5197