Skip to main content

A stack of leather bound books next to a notebook.Photo by Mikhail Pavstyuk on Unsplash


Trade sources

Multimedia sources

Scholarly sources

Grey literature

Subject Guide

Get help

Research Help

For one-on-one assistance with research and other questions:

Reference Desk Hours

Monday-Thursday 9am-5pm
Friday 9am-3pm
Saturday  closed
Sunday 12pm-5pm

Finding Full-Text Articles

In most databases, if the full text of the article is not readily available, you will see a Check for Full Text button. 

Clicking on the button will do one of the following:

a) take you to the article - look for PDF full text,
b) take you to the catalog - click on the link next to Content Available
c) link you to Interlibrary Loan so you can request a copy of the article.

Popular, Scholarly, Trade, and Grey Literature Sources

Criteria Popular Scholarly Trade Grey Literature
Purpose/Intent To inform, entertain, or persuade. often published or produced by commercial organizations. To inform, report, or make available original research, promote scholarly communication, or advance knowledge. Could be primary or secondary. To provide news, trends, or practical information or examine problems or concerns in a particular field, trade, or industry. To disseminate research quickly or respond to a public issue.
Audience General public. Scholars, researchers, and students of specific discipline or field. Practitioners of a particular field, trade, or industry. Professionals and researchers in the same field or industry and/or policy makers.
Creator Professional writers, journalists, freelance writers, or other kinds of creators. Scholars or researchers with extensive credentials and experience in the specific discipline or field and usually associated with a university or other organization. Professionals or freelance writers or creators with experience in a particular field, trade, or industry. Individual scholars, government agencies, nonprofit organizations and institutions, businesses, and think tanks but not through traditional publishers.
Language/Tone Less formal, non-technical, and maybe even entertaining language. Specialized terminology or jargon from the specific discipline or field. Specialized terminology or jargon used in the field or industry. Specialized terminology or jargon used in the field or industry.
References Sources often attributed, but are not cited in academic style. Sources always cited. Sources occasionally, but not usually cited. This depends on the publication. Sources are typically, but not always cited.
Timeliness Can be published days, hours, or even minutes after current events. Popular magazine articles may appear several weeks later. Published months or years after current events. Published weeks or months after current events. Timeliness varies.
Accountability Content may be evaluated by professional editors, but not by experts in the field. Usually reviewed and critically evaluated by a subject expert or board of subject experts (peer review); published or produced by a scholarly organization or society (university, association, commercial enterprise, etc.). Content may be evaluated by experts in the field; often published or produced by a trade association. Expert review differs for different kinds of grey literature. Many may not be reviewed at all.

Adapted from "Popular, Scholarly, Trade, and Grey Literature Sources" by The Teaching and Learning TeamGeorge Mason University, licensed under CC BY 4.0.