Like scholarly sources, popular sources come in many formats, including: books, magazines, newspapers, websites, and pamphlets. They are written for a general audience and the authors generally do not cite sources, use complicated or discipline-specific jargon, or assume readers have prior knowledge of the topic or problem presented. While it is important to be able to distinguish popular from scholarly sources, popular works may be useful to your research. Many primary sources, which can provide cultural context to an issue, are popular sources.
Scholarly sources provide analysis and in-depth discussion of a topic or question and are always argumentative, contributing to ongoing dialogue and debate within one or more disciplines. Examples may include: books, journals, conference proceedings, unpublished or pre-print articles.
General characteristics of scholarly sources:
Even in the academic library, not all books are scholarly. This page lists several things to look for when evaluating the type of book you're looking at.