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HLTH 101 Online Module: Scholarly Journals: 1. Scholarly Resources

What are scholarly and popular sources?

In your University career, you will need to use scholarly research for your essays and papers.  With so much information available online, it is important for you to know the difference between scholarly and popular sources to ensure you are using high quality academic research. 

Watch this introductory video (2.06 min) for an overview on scholarly and popular sources. Used with permission from McMaster University Library.

What is the difference between scholarly and popular sources?

  Popular Magazine Scholarly Journal

- Eye-catching cover that highlights magazine's content

- Many pictures and illustrations in colour

- Uses glossy paper

- Plain cover that lists journal name, date, volume, issue number, and ISSN

- Limited illustrations are usually black and white graphics, tables, or graphs accompanying an article


- Contains a lot of advertisements    

- Few or none



- General public           




- Researchers, academics, students, and professionals



- Current events or general interest articles 

- Not original research

- Original research and review articles

- In-depth analysis


- Articles written by journalists and freelance writers

- Authors may be anonymous

- Researchers, academics, scholars

- Experts in the subject

- Author names and institutional affiliations given


- Rarely cites sources or includes a bibliography

- Reference to sources vague (A study shows...) as opposed to a full citation

- Complete citations and bibliographies always present
Other Characteristics

- Articles use easily understood language and do not require any special knowledge 

- Issues are published frequently, on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis

- Purpose is to entertain readers and promote/sell products

- Articles tend to be shorter in length

- Articles use scholarly and technical language which assumes the reader is knowledgeable in the topic

- Issues published less frequently, on a monthly, quarterly, or yearly basis

- Articles are intended to present original research findings and communicate ideas to other scholars in the field

- Articles tend to be longer in length


- Natural Health

- Macleans

- Journal of Sport Management 

- Journal of Leisure Research

Scholarly or Popular

Based on the information provided in the video and table above, what is your opinion on the following publication:  Canadian Family Physician?  Is it scholarly or popular?

Canadian Family Physician cover