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NW 210: The Natural World (Dr. Johnson)

Types of Information Sources

Scholarly Resources

Academic resources, such as journals, academic books, and dissertations, undergo a formal evaluation process before publication called peer review.. The peer review process, meaning that the material has been reviewed by experts in the field, helps to ensure high quality information and accuracy of results. Peer reviewed simply means that the manuscript has been reviewed by experts in the field. 

Most of your resources for University work should be scholarly research articles. Scholarly journals also contain editorials, book reviews, news, letters, etc. These resources are not considered research articles.

Characteristics of scholarly studies:

  • Reference/bibliographic list
  • Defined research question(s)
  • Qualitative, quantitative, or mixed research method
  • Sample(s) gathered from population
  • Uses of measurement instrument to gather data
  • Literature review
  • Inferences made from findings
  • Usually more than a single author
  • Scholarly, academic language and industry jargon
  • High page count
  • Tables and figures of findings

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Trade Publications

*It is important to note that Trade Publications have some overlap with popular sources, historically or in its readership!

Trade publications are neither considered academic or popular; they are resources written for those who work in a specific industry. These publications tend to publish news, statistics, trends and other information relevant to their industry. Authors can be staff editors, journalists, practitioners or academics in the field. They made be published by trade or professional associations. Articles may be short and may not include references, or not nearly as many references as scholarly journal articles. 

Examples of trade publications include: 

  • AdWeek
  • The Chronicle of Higher Education
  • Library Journal
  • Engineering News Record
  • Management Today

Some databases have a search limiter for trade publications 

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Popular Resources

Popular resources do not typically go through the same review process as academic resources; in many cases popular resources are reviewed by a single editor, who may or may not have expertise in the subject area. Popular resources are usually written for a broad, public audience (that is to say - the populace) and do not typically formal language.

Examples of popular resources include magazine and newspaper articles, websites, and wikis. Use popular resources to identify the latest trends and issues within your topic, but do not rely heavily on these types of resources.

Characteristics of popular source articles:

  • Uses short sentences and simple language
  • Author reports information from interviews or second hand sources
  • Sometimes the author is not listed or qualifications are not indicated
  • Bibliography or references usually not included
  • Usually illustrated with colorful photographs

Many databases have a search limiter for magazines/newspapers on the Advanced Search screen.

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Email Butler University Libraries
Irwin Library: 317-940-9227
Science Library: 317-940-9937

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