Skip to Main Content

FILA 150 Women in Music Class Guide

Academic vs. Popular Sources

How do you know if a title is an academic source or a popular source? What is peer review? What about the sources I find through Google?

An academic/scholarly resource:

  • Is generally written by faculty members, medical doctors, and scholars for the purpose of scholarship
  • Uses technical language that is not intended to be understand by the general populace, but rather an expert in the field in which it is published
  • Often will go through the peer-review process, which is intended to ensure the validity of the resource:

A popular resource:

  • Is ordinarily written by a professional journalist or writer, and is intended to be read by a general populace (rather than experts in the field)
  • Written in easily-understood language and cover broader topics
  • Are not evaluated by experts in the field
  • Lack a list of resources that were referenced by the author during the writing process

A web source:

  • Is accessible directly through Google
  • Can be written and published by anyone (whether they are from the government, a college or institution, or if they have no credentials at all)
  • Does not go through any vetting at all, whether it be peer-review or an editor

You need a minimum of three outside sources for this assignment. Use the databases below to search for both academic and popular sources.

Searching the Library Catalog

Once you have your keywords selected, search through our library catalog, Discovery, here:

For Advanced Search, click here      


This is a starting point, but make sure that you look beyond the library catalog and search in library databases. Some suggested databases can be found in the next box.

Need some research help? Schedule an appointment for a research consultation using the button below:

Useful Databases

Relevant Databases

Don't get stuck only using Academic Search Complete during your time here at Bridgewater. If you're having trouble finding articles about your topic, it's often because you're using the wrong database.

Try searching using different databases that make more sense for your major. To do this, visit our A–Z Databases page and use the subject dropdown to select your subject. If you're having trouble determining what database to use, reach out to me! I'm here to help! Email me at or set up a research consultation with me.