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Understanding Sources: Types of Sources

Academic, scholary, peer-reviewed journals


Written by scholars, researchers, or experts often with university affiliation.

  • Intended for scholars, researchers, and academic audiences.
  • Features original research.
  • Uses discipline specific terminology or jargon.
  • Contains no (or very little) advertising.
  • Articles have an abstract and usually a methodology section, literature review, and charts/graphs. 
  • Always includes a bibliography/references.
  • Peer reviewed/refereed.
  • Published by academic presses or scholarly organizations.

Trade publications

Written by authors with specialized knowledge, expertise, or experience in a particular field or industry.

  • Intended for members of a profession, industry, or organization.
  • Typically features targeted advertising and industry specific jargon.
  • Common topics include news, events, trends, and professionally relevant information.
  • Undergoes an editorial review process.
  • Published by associations, corporations, or organizations.

Popular Magazines & News

Written by journalists.

  • Intended for a wide audience.
  • Uses simple everyday language.
  • Tend to be glossy with a lot of advertising and photographs.
  • Undergoes an editorial review process.
  • Commercial publishers.