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SOWK 330/607 : Social Welfare Policy Practice: Scholarly vs. Popular

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Scholarly Versus Popular Sources

Many times, instructors insist that you use scholarly sources for your papers.  What does that mean?  Check out this handy dandy chart below for the details!

Here are the basics:


Scholarly Journals:

  • somewhat dull looking - very few pictures or advertisements
  • written by experts in the field and reviewed by other scholars before publication
  • long articles with citations and bibliographies at the end


Popular Magazines/Newspapers:

  • glossy, pretty pages with lots of advertisements and pictures
  • written by hired reporters for a general audience
  • short, easily read articles

Why should you use the library and not just use Google to find some good websites?

Most of the time, scholarly publications are not available to the general public, nor are they available for free on the internet.  Individuals or organizations (such as a library) subscribe to these publications.  Because subscriptions are expensive, many choose to access this content through libraries. 

Often, content from scholarly journals is indexed in databases that the library subscribes to.  The content is on the web, but it is not accessible unless you are affiliated with the institution who is subscribing.  It isn’t the same thing as just finding a website through a regular Google search.  Sometimes the full text of the article is available through the database; other times it is only a citation to the article and you will need to find the print version of the article in the library or order the article through interlibrary loan if we don’t subscribe to it.

And about literature reviews!

Some links for you to check out:


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Mou Chakraborty