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Types of Sources  

Last Updated: Feb 23, 2017 URL: Print Guide

Types of Sources Print Page


Periodicals are publications that are printed and distributed at regular intervals. There are three main types of periodicals:



Scholarly vs. Popular

                       Scholarly*            =



                       Popular                =

Magazines and Newspapers


  *Scholarly has three synonyms:

  • peer-reviewed
  • refereed
  • academic           

Journals are considered scholarly sources because they are created to further knowledge in academic fields and educate, while newspapers and magazines are considered popular sources because they are created to entertain and inform the general public.


Video: Scholarly vs. Popular Periodicals


Video: Peer Review in Five Minutes

Professors will often ask you to use a Scholarly or Peer Reviewed article.  The 5-minute clip below explains what Peer Review means and why it is important.

Created by North Carolina State University Libraries


Video: The World of Information

This 6 minute video provides an overview of the types of sources used in college-level research.

Credit:  University of Tennessee Chattanooga Library


Why identify publication type?

It is important to be aware of the different types of publication sources so that when you are conducting research you know what publication source will meet your information need. Also, in order to properly cite a source, you need to identify its publication type to determine the correct formatting. Determing publication type can be more challenging when viewing an article in electronic format since there is often less context



Academic Journal Characteristics

--Purpose is for educating

--Articles written by scholars and experts

--Articles are in-depth and long

--Articles are rigorously reviewed by experts

--Language of articles is technical

--Sources are cited

--Little or no advertising

--Graphs, charts and illustrations are used to show research


Magazine Characteristics

--Purpose is to entertain and inform

--Articles written by journalists

--Facts are checked by editor and fact checking staff

--Uses flashy pictures and headlines to attract readers

--Normally no citations included

--Articles about current events and culture

--Published monthly and sometimes weekly

--Written for the general public thus writing is easy to understand


Newspaper Characteristics

--Purpose is for entertaining and inform

--Articles written by journalists

--Facts are checked quickly by editor and fact checking staff

--Articles published daily

--Usually no citation

--Articles written to report current events

--Articles are often short in length

--Pictures and headlines used to grab attention


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