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Theatre and Dance: Scholarly vs Popular Sources

Scholarly vs Popular

Popular vs Scholarly

Breaking it Down

Scholarly or Academic sources:

Their purpose is to share information within the subject field and they are based on original research and experimentation. They are suitable for academics, and are supported by a system of learning and study.  They are less widely circulated than popular sources and may be understandable only to those who work or study in a particular field. In addition, scholarly sources are juried either through peer review or the referee process.

  • uses the language of the discipline (not written for general audience)
  • length of article is long (usually longer than 5 pages)
  • citations throughout and references at the end of article
  • author has credentials in the field (you can tell because usually there is a brief blurb about where the author works and what field his/her PhD is in.
  • published in scholarly journal (good time to use Google - look at Submission OR About page of the journal - that is where they usually mention they are a peer-review publication.

             Examples: New England Journal of Medicine, Modern Fiction Studies, Journal of  Modern History, American Journal of Political Science.

Popular sources: are widely available, usually cheaper to acquire, and can be understood by almost every person with basic literacy skills.  They tend to promulgate known ideas and theories. These works may be professionally edited, but do not go through a jury process.

  • written for a general audience
  • published in newspapers or popular magazines (not peer-reviewed)
  • shorter article length
  • author is not always an expert in the area
  • no citations or references

             Examples: Time, Newsweek, Sport's Illustrated, People

Trade:  Neither scholarly or popular sources, but could be a combination of both.  Allows practitioners in specific industries to share market and production information that improves their businesses.

  • Specialists in the field. Usually an article has only one author. Sometimes no author is listed.
  • People who work in the field. Written to offer practical information, news, etc. Authors expect readers to understand specialized language.
  • Sources may be mentioned, but are unlikely to be cited formally.
  • Unlikely to have formal sections. Images are usually intended to illustrate concepts rather than decorate the page.
  • Not peer-reviewed

             Examples: Interior Design, Aviation Week, Progressive Farmer, Pharmacy Times


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