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Communications & Writing Research Guide

This guide is intended to help students in all levels of writing and communications classes - whether you are new to doing research at Bentley or need a refresher!

Popular Sources

What are popular sources?

Magazines and newspapers are considered popular sources and are excellent sources for background information on a topic.


  • Articles are usually written by journalists.
  • Articles are written to be understandable to a wide audience.
  • Purpose of the article is to report news, summarize information, persuade or entertain.
  • Articles rarely include a bibliography, but may mention sources within the article (e.g. “as reported in a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association”, or “according to a 2014 congressional study…”).
  • Frequency of publication is daily, weekly or monthly.
  • Typically contain advertisements.

Scholarly Sources

What are scholarly sources?

Scholarly, peer-reviewed, or refereed sources are often required for academic research.


  • Articles are written by researchers and subject experts; the author’s credentials and academic/professional affiliations are clearly identified.
  • Most articles are approved for publication by the process of peer review.
  • The intended audience is researchers, professors, students.
  • Language will include jargon, terms, and/or statistical figures that are commonly used in the discipline. The author will assume that the reader has a certain level of knowledge about the field and the topic at hand.
  • The purpose of the article is to report research and scholarly ideas and to add to the body of scholarly knowledge.
  • Articles include a bibliography and may follow a strict format (e.g. abstract, research methodology, data, and a discussion of results).
  • Journals are usually published by an academic organization, research institute, university, or scholarly press.
  • The frequency of publication is monthly, quarterly, semi-annually.
  • Take a look at the publication - in databases, you can often click on the publication title to find a profile to determine if it is a scholarly source. If you still are not sure, you can also search for the publication in Ulrichsweb Global Serials Directory.

    Note: Sometimes "non-scholarly" materials are returned in results even if you are searching scholarly publications - these may include book reviews or editorials. Be sure to evaluate carefully and check the document type if you are searching in a database.

How to Read a Scholarly Article

Consult the PowerPoint slide deck below for details on the important parts of a scholarly article.