University-level assignments often ask you to locate Scholarly or Trade literature on your topic. While you might not have heard these terms before, telling the difference between a scholarly journal and a popular press source (like a magazine or newspaper) is actually quite easy. This chart will help you figure it out.
|Purpose(Intent)||To inform, entertain, or persuade about current events or popular opinion and to make money||To inform, report, or make available original research, promote scholarly communication, or advance knowledge||To provide news, trends, or practical information or examine problems or concerns in a particular field, trade, or industry||To disseminate research quickly or respond to a public issue|
|Audience||General public||Scholars, researchers, and students of specific discipline or field||Practitioners of a particular field, trade, or industry||Professionals and researchers in the same field or industry and/or policymakers|
|Creator||Professional writers, journalists, freelance writers or creators that deal with a variety of topics regularly||Scholars or researchers with extensive credentials and experience in the specific discipline or field and usually associated with a university or other organization||Professionals or freelance writers or creators with experience in a particular field, trade, or industry||Individual scholars, government agencies, non-profit organizations and institutions, businesses, and think tanks but not through traditional publishers|
|Language (Tone)||Entertaining, non-technical language||Specialized terminology or jargon from the specific discipline or field||Specialized terminology or jargon used in the field or industry||Specialized terminology or jargon used in the field or industry|
|References||Sources rarely cited||Sources always cited||Sources occasionally, but not usually cited. This depends on the publication.||Sources are typically, but not always cited|
|Accountability||Content not evaluated by experts in the field; often published or produced by commercial organizations||Usually reviewed and critically evaluated by a subject expert or board of subject experts (peer review); published or produced by a scholarly organization or society (university, association, commercial enterprise, etc.)||Content may be evaluated by experts in the field; often published or produced by a trade association||Expert review differs for different kinds of grey literature. Many may not be reviewed at all|
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Additional Questions and Help
If you tried to use this chart and continue to have problems identifying what kind of sources you are working with, you could try asking a librarian or coming to a service desk for help.
Popular, Scholarly, and Trade Sourcesby C. Ferrance is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.