Sources are often categorized as "popular" or "scholarly" but there are other types of sources that may fall somewhere in-between.
These charts show you how we often can identify and analyze types of periodicals (magazines or journals) and academic books. Many of these factors apply also to sources on the free web but some specific tips for evaluating websites are also provided.
|Popular||News||Commentary or Analysis||Industry ("Trade"), Professional||Scholarly|
New York Times
Grand Rapids Press
Journal of Educational Research
Social Psychology Quarterly
|Value & Uses||
Current events; Hot topics;
|Current information; Hard news; Local and regional information; Classified ads; Editorials; Speeches; Book reviews; Primary source for information on events||Commentaries on social & political issues; Some in-depth analysis; Political viewpoints, liberal, conservative & other; Sometimes acts as voice of activist organization; Speeches & interviews; Book reviews||
Current trends, news & products in a field; Company, organization, & biographical information; Statistics, forecasts; Employment & career information;Book and product reviews
Reports of original research;In depth analysis of issues related to the discipline; Academic level book reviews; Often refereed or peer-reviewed
|Language||Non-technical language||Written for a general educated audience||Written for a general educated audience||Written for practitioners; Can use jargon extensively||Academic; Can be very technical; Uses the language of the discipline|
|Authors||Generally, journalists and freelance writers||Journalists||Extremely variable; Can be academics, journalists, representatives of various “groups||Practitioners in the field or journalists with subject expertise||Researchers, academics, professors, scholars, etc.|
|Sources||Rarely cite any sources||Rarely cite any sources in full||Occasionally cite sources in text or provide short bibliographies||Occasional brief bibliographies; Sources sometimes cited in text||Footnotes and bibliographies, Often very extensive documentation|
|Publisher||Commercial publishers||Commercial publishers||Commercial publishers or non-profit organizations||Commercial publishers or professional and trade associations||Universities, scholarly presses or academic/research organizations|
|Graphics*||Very glossy; Full of color ads of all sorts||Pictures, charts, ads of all sorts||Wide variety of appearances; Some very plain, others lots of gloss||Photographs, charts, tables, illustrations of all sorts; Sometimes glossy ads||Graphs, charts, formulas, depending on the discipline; No glossy ads here at all|
Source: Designs for Active Learning (Gradowski, 1998) - adapted
*Note that in the online versions of these periodicals (on the web or in our library databases), you may not see these same graphical elements or clues.
If you want to investigate further a specific periodical title, you might check these resources:
Books can be categorized along similar types as magazines and journals. In particular, these types of books are worth considering for your research:
|Value & Uses||Might discuss more current issues; not considered scholarly but still can be substantive||Might address a very specific subject in a lot of depth; considered more authoritative|
|Authors||Could be academics, journalists, or freelance writers||Academics, researchers, or other scholars, often associated with a college or university|
|Publisher||Commercial publishers such as Harper Collins, Basic, Crown||University presses; Commercial academic presses such as Sage, Jossey-Bass, or Springer|