Scholarly sources are written by experts on a topic and usually report original research results (like an experiment they conducted) or analyze other scholars' research. Their purpose may be to educate, inform, or persuade an informed, academic audience.
What's an academic journal article? Take a look at this illustrated guide:
Popular sources are not written by experts on the topic: they may be professional journalists or writers, but not necessarily experts. Their purpose is to entertain, inform, or persuade an uninformed, general audience.
This chart outlines some of the major differences between scholarly and popular information sources:
Here's an example of two articles on the same topic: the college admissions scandal in summer 2019.
You can find both articles in our Academic Search Complete database, but one is popular and one is scholarly. Can you tell which one is which by the covers of their publications?
If you thought the People magazine article is the popular source and the Journal of College Admission is the scholarly source, you're right!