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BWRIT 135: Research Writing (Harack): Source Types

Scholarly, Trade and Popular Sources


Scholarly Sources

 Professional or Trade Sources

 Popular Sources


American Journal of Psychology coverAmerican Journal of Psychology


Journal of the American Medical Association 



African Journal of Ecology    

Advertising Age

Education Week

Supply and Demand Chain Executive

Health Insurance Underwriter Magazine

Beverage Industry Magazine

Psychology Today

National Geographic 

Seattle Times

TV news broadcasts (local news stations like KING 5, national news like CNN, MSNBC, etc.)

Blogs, YouTube videos, personal websites


 Scholars, researchers, and students

 Other members of the profession or trade

 General audience, all readers


  • Scholars, researchers, and experts in the field of study
  • Author's credentials in the field are established (e.g., institutional affiliation, maybe degrees)
  • Members of the profession or trade, specialized journalists, or technical writers
  • Credentials are usually not provided
  • Reporters/journalists, usually not experts on the subject
  • Authors may not have special qualifications for writing article; credentials are usually not provided
  • For personal blogs and social media accounts, authors may include as much or as little information as they like



  • Sources cited in footnotes and/or bibliography
  • Usually extensive list of references
  • Documentation of sources is not required, though sometimes brief bibliographies of further readings are included
  • Sources are not cited or cited informally
  • Often rely on quotes for experts or witnesses for evidence
  • No reference list provided

Language and Writing Style

  • Field-specific language/jargon; requires reader to be previously informed about field.
  • Include jargon and terms that are commonly used in the profession or trade
  • Written in everyday language accessible to any general reader


  • To report results of original research, experimentation or analysis
  • Provide practical information for members of a profession or industry, including topics like news, trends, products, and research summaries
  • Provide broad, general information and entertainment
  • Secondary but not "original" research (the author didn’t conduct the actual lab work, math, or theoretical analysis.)


  • Dense text-based pages
  • May contain complicated graphs or charts
  • Usually will not include color glossy pages or photographs
  • Very little advertising, if any
  • Moderate number of advertisements targeted to the interests of the members of a profession, industry, or organization
  • Attractive appearance – colorful
  • Advertisements
  • Heavily illustrated
  • Generally short in length

More help evaluating sources