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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!

Publication Types

Publication types include popular, scholarly, and trade sources. Academic research often includes the use of all of three of these source types. 

Popular Sources

Popular Sources are meant for a general audience and wide readership. Magazines and newspapers are considered popular sources and are excellent sources for background information on a topic.

Scholarly Sources

Scholarly, peer-reviewed sources are often required for academic research. Found in either book or journal formats. These types of sources are written by experts and meant to be read by other experts or those researching a topic in-depth.


What is peer review?

Sources that are designated as peer-reviewed (sometimes also known as refereed) refers to the process in which an article is accepted for publication in an academic, scholarly source. Articles are submitted by the author(s) to these publications for acceptance. Before these articles are accepted to be included in the publication, other experts in the field will review and scrutinize the article or other type of work to ensure the quality of the information being presented.


How to read a scholarly article

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

Trade Publications

Trade publications fall outside of both scholarly and popular information, though they may contain elements of both. These publications are targeted towards professionals or practitioners working in a specific field or industry. The subject matter focuses on industry news, professional skills, and trends.

How can I tell what type of source I am looking at?

Oftentimes, when looking at an article, you may not be looking at the whole publication. The chart below highlights some key characteristics to look for in helping you to determine what type of publication an article may be from:

Quick Tip: If you want to check if a scholarly article you find is from a peer-reviewed publication, you can search for the name of the publication the article appears in using a resource called Ulrichsweb Global Serials Directory. If the publication is marked as refereed, that means it is peer reviewed!