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English and English Composition: Scholarly vs. Non-Scholarly

This research guide supplements information on English and English Composition studies.


Scholarly Sources
Scholarly sources are materials written by scholars in a particular academic field. These scholarly materials appear in scholarly journals (ex. Victorian Studies), journals by an academic organization, or published in scholarly books.
Other indicators of scholarly materials:
  • Journal focuses on one discipline (ex. Journal of Immunology);
  • Author's credentials are included;
  • Bibliographic information (Works Cited or References)
  • Present original research or experimentation
  • More emphasis is placed on content than on appearance.
  • Specialized language, charts, and/or graphs
Non-Scholarly or Popular Materials
Non-scholarly or popular materials are generally written for public interest.  Editors normally seek articles that deal with current issues and popular topics in culture and society. Depending on the topic of study (ex. Journalism), popular materials may need to be used in research in an academic paper. For example, the BlackLivesMatter movement will mostly be written by popular sources but that does not mean scholars have not researched about it. It is up to the writing scholar to balance both types of sources.
Examples of non-scholarly materials:
  • Wikipedia(s)
  • Random or general public social media posts
  • Websites with no references listed
  • Tabloids
  • Fake News

Examples of Popular Materials:

  • Popular or Opinion Magazines
  • Newspapers or news magazines
  • Trade Journals
  • Professional Networking sites (ex. Linked In, Indeed)
  • Social media (ex. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram)

Why does it matter?

Scholarly vs. Non-Scholarly

There are differences between the two.