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Welcome to the WMCC Fortier Library: Scholarly Sources

Does your instructor require you to use Peer-Reviewed or Scholarly Sources for your research paper?

Scholarly Sources are often referred to in many ways; your instructor may call them Peer-Reviewed Articles, Academic Articles, Journal Articles, Research Articles & more. Even databases differ in the terminology they use, all referring to basically the same thing.

Scholarly articles are different from popular articles. Use the guide below to learn the difference between popular and scholarly resources.  

       Academic Journal     Phone displaying website      Newspaper   Stack of magazines  Website 


Scholarly vs. Popular Sources at a Glance

Scholarly & Popular Articles
  Popular Articles Scholarly Articles
  • Journalists
  • Professional Writers
  • Scholars
  • Researchers
  • Professionals in the field
Audience General Public Other scholars or professionals
Visual Appearance Often include color, photos, and advertisements Include mostly text, but may include graphs and charts
Length Tend to be short Tend to be lengthy
Language Can be understood by the average reader Use professional jargon and academic language
  • Published daily, weekly, monthly
  • May include trending topics, language, or current events
  • Published quarterly or annually, rarely monthly
  • May not include trending topics, language or current events
  • Presents research findings and data
  • Gives a broad overview of issues of interest to the general public
  • Rarely gives full citations of sources
  • May summarize academic articles: "A recent study finds..."
  • Covers narrow topics related to specific fields
  • Includes full citations, usually to other scholarly sources
Recommended For
  • Enjoyable reading material
  • Finding topic ideas
  • Staying on top of Current Events
  • Learning the basics or different perspecttives for your topic
  • Sources for academic work
  • Professional development
  • Learning about new research being conducted
Where to Find
  • Google
  • Social Media Links
  • In print, widely available, low-cost
  • Often free online, sometimes restricted 
  • Some Library databases
  • Library databases (limit to scholarly or peer-reviewed)
  • Open-source databases
  • Google Scholar- full text often restricted
  • Available in print at academic libraries

This is a derivative work based on Scholarly & Popular Articles by adstarkel (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

Reading a Scholarly Article

Peer Reviewed (or scholarly) Articles in 3 Minutes

 Watch  Peer Review in 3 Minutes by NC State Libraries to learn about  these high-quality sources.

Scholarly and Popular Sources Video

Carnegie Vincent Library's video on the popular and scholarly sources

Finding Peer-Reviewed Articles

Your best bet is to use Library Databases to find Peer-Reviewed, Scholarly Articles.

Library Databases:

Select the Peer-Reviewed limiter from the result list.

Google Scholar: 

  • We recommend using Google Scholar only if you are experienced reading scholarly articles or with the help of your instructor or librarian. (Also, citation can be tricky- reach out for help!)
  • Google Scholar retrieves scholarly articles from the internet.
  • Some of these scholarly articles are full text, but many are not.
  • Watch out! Often times, it appears as though an article found via Google Scholar is full-text, when in fact it is not. Remember, scholarly articles are usually very long. Look at the citation for the number of pages the full length article should be.
  • Some Google Scholar articles are peer-reviewed. Some are what is called PrePrint, meaning it has not yet gone through the peer-review process.
  • If you hit a paywall, as in you need to pay to access the article- reach out to us! We will get the article for free!
  • Unsure if an article is peer-reviewed, full text, etc? Reach out to us- we are here to help.


You decide: Is the following a full-text article?

Chris Richardson (2011) “Can't Tell Me Nothing”: Symbolic Violence, Education, and Kanye West, Popular Music and Society, 34:1, 97-112, DOI: 10.1080/03007766.2011.539831