Different sources will provide different types of information for your studies, research or personal needs as follows:


  • Can be used to locate comprehensive information such as background information about the topic.
  • The reference lists of books can be used to access other sources related to the topic.
  • You should consider the publication date to see whether the information is up to date.
  • You should consider the subject background of author and publisher.


  • A specific subject or multiple subjects of the databases are available.
  • They contain full-text journals articles and with citation of the used sources.
  • Some titles may not have full-text articles, but have bibliographic information.

Scholarly Journals

  • Can provide the recent research or trend of a topic.
  • Written by experts on the topic.
  • Have in-depth content.
  • Have citations and bibliographies of other sources related to the topic.


  • Daily information.
  • News related to local or overseas.


  • General encyclopedias: relate to a wide range of subjects with basics information.
  • Subject encyclopedias: provide a specific subject with more details information.
  • Encyclopedias are usually written in an easy read and understandable way.

Web Sites

  • Can provide access to abundant information and points of view on a topic.
  • Can provide access to the most updated information.
  • You should consider the accuracy and credibility of the information.


At the tertiary education level, it is important to use scholarly sources in your papers. The difference between scholarly and popular sources is mainly in written purpose, content, the subject background of the writers, used sources and peer reviews.

Purpose Scholarly Sources:
The purpose of the written material is to share the findings from the original research or analysis of other research.
Popular Sources :
For wide range of readers about issues of interest.
Content Scholarly Sources:
Written in a serious and analytical way that is based on data, statistics and research. In depth information.
Popular Sources :
Could be written by any person.
Author Scholarly Sources:
Written by experts in the specific topics.
Popular Sources :
Could be written by any person.
Citation Scholarly Sources:
All used sources provide citations. Also, citations provide accuracy and validity of its claims.
Popular Sources :
Not necessarily has citation.
Peer reviewed Scholarly Sources:
Peer reviewed prior to the work being published. Peer reviewed means other expertise has been given in the topic.
Popular Sources :
Not necessarily has been peer reviewed.
Examples Scholarly Sources:
Scholarly journal articles
Academic books
Databases (Ebrary, ProQuest, EbscoHost, The China Quarterly)
Popular Sources :