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How to Determine if an Article is Reliable

This guide will assist determining whether a source is reliable and if it matches the 'popular' or 'scholarly' designation.

Popular vs. Scholarly

 

My professor talks about scholarly and popular sources, not reliable sources.

 

Professors often talk about popular vs scholarly sources because it makes it really clear which types of sources they will accept. Usually that means they will only accept scholarly peer-reviewed sources for that assignment. If a professors says you can use some number of popular sources, they are going to prefer trade or authoritative sources over entertainment sources.

Popular Articles (Magazines)

  • Are often written by journalists or professional writers for a general audience
  • Use language easily understood by general readers
  • Rarely give full citations for sources
  • Written for the general public
  • Tend to be shorter than journal articles

Scholarly Articles (Journals)

  • Are written by and for faculty, researchers or scholars (chemists, historians, doctors, artists, etc.)
  • Uses scholarly or technical language
  • Tend to be longer articles about research
  • Include full citations for sources 
  • Are often refereed or peer reviewed (articles are reviewed by an editor and other specialists before being accepted for publication)
  • Book reviews and editorials are not considered scholarly articles, even when found in scholarly journals
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