Skip to Main Content
Banner Image

Primary and Secondary Scientific Sources: Popular or Scholarly?

The Differences

Popular information is created for all audiences and gives overviews of topics or information about current events. Authors may be journalists, professional writers, or amateurs.

Examples: Radio, newspapers, magazine articles, books not researched or written by experts

Scholarly information is created by experts, scholars, or practitioners and gives analysis and evaluation of topics in fields of research.

Examples: Professional journal articles, researched books, specialized encyclopedias

Peer Review?

Peer-reviewed publications go through a review process in which the author’s peers (fellow experts on the topic) judge the quality of the work and accept or reject the material for publication.  Another term for these types of publications may be referreed articles.