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Special Collections For assistance with primary sources related to:
540-828-8018 Stephanie Gardner
When you evaluate information, you need to do it a little differently depending on the type of resource you're looking at, but how do you know the difference between an academic resource and a popular resource.
An academic/scholarly resource:
It is possible to access scholarly and popular sources through the general internet (i.e.—Google), but they are separate from general web sources, because of the publication process through which they go. As an example, you're able to access the New York Times and other newspapers through Google and the Google News mode, but they are still popular sources. Additionally, you can access scholarly sources through Google Scholar, but they are still scholarly.
Identifying the type of publication can help you decide the type of information to expect from it. This list is not definitive, and there are always gray areas and exceptions to the rules. But, these are some general characteristics.
|Scholarly Journals||General Interest/News||Popular Magazines|
|Graphics||Graphs and charts to illustrate concepts||Photos or illustrations mean to enhance article||Photos or illustrations meant to enhance the magazine's attractiveness|
|Sources||Cited sources with footnotes and/or bibliography||Occasionally cited sources, but not as a rule||Rarely cited sources, original sources may be obscured|
|Authors||Scholars or researchers||Freelance or scholarly writers usually knowledgeable of the topic||Staff or freelance writers|
|Language||Uses the vocabulary of the discipline||Language appropriate for an educated readership||Simple language meant to appeal to general audiences|
|Purpose||To information the scholarly community of original research/findings||To provide general information to a wide, interested audience||To entertain, persuade, or sell products|
|Publishers||Professional organizations or non-profit entities||Published by commercial enterprises for profit||Published by commercial enterprises for profit|
|Advertising||Selective, often related to the discipline||Generally contains advertising for national brands/products||Contains extensive advertising|
|Examples||New England Journal of Medicine||Newsweek, National Geographic||People, Better Homes and Gardens, Men's Health|