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Evaluating Sources

This guide will help you in learning how to evaluate the sources you find.

Comparing Scholarly, Popular, and Trade/Technical Periodicals

Table comparing scholarly, popular, and trade periodicals
  Scholarly Popular Trade
Purpose
  • Report original research findings or theories
  • Inform or entertain on current events
  • News or other information for in people who work in the field
Authors
  • Experts or researchers in the field
  • Often more than one author
  • Affiliations are listed
  • Journalists or freelance writers
  • Journalists with subject expertise
  • Practitioners in the field
Audience
  • Other experts in the field
  • People researching the topic, such as professors and students
  • General public
  • Practitioners in the field, researchers, or general public interested in the topic
Language
  • Specialized jargon for the field
  • Easy to understand
  • Jargon avoided or defined
  • Technical language specific to the field
Sources or Documentation
  • Sources heavily cited
  • Rarely cite sources
  • May mention other articles or reports
  • Sources may be cited
Look
  • Formal and structured.
  • May have tables or graphs
  • Limited illustrations to only those that are necessary
  • No advertising 
  • Varies, but visually appealing
  • Many advertisements 
  • Visually appealing
  • May include illustrations, charts, and graphs
Editors
  • Typically experts in the field
  • If peer-reviewed, then by peer scholars in the field
  • Staff editors who evaluate articles 
  • Staff editors who evaluate articles
Examples
  • Advances in Bioinformatics
  • AANA Journal
  • Quarterly Journal of Economics
  • The Lancet
  • Chicago Sun-Times
  • New York Times
  • People
  • Sports Illustrated
  • Psychology Today
  • Scrubs Magazine
  • AdWeek 
  • Backstage