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Graduate Research Support: Graduate Level Sources

Gradaute Research Help

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Get lengthier and more specialized research help with our book an appointment service.

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Review of scholarly vs popular sources

Example of popular magagines like Atlantic and the New YorkerPopular

  • magazines, newspaper articles, popular books
  • written for general audience, informal in tone and scope
  • rarely cite other sources 
  • magazine and newspaper articles are short (200-500 words)
  • useful for getting ideas for a topic or for background and anecdotal information.


Watch out ! Magazines that cover academic topics for general audiences are considered "popular" i.e., National Geographic, Scientific American, Psychology Today.


Image of Scholarly Journal

  • written by experts (majority have PhD's)
  • author(s) associated with Universities, Research Institutions or Hospitals
  • contain original research
  • cite other sources extensively throughout and contain works cited section
  • audience is other experts and university students studying in the same field
  • language and content is academic 
  • many are peer reviewed 


Peer Reviewed Articles three people talking at a table- Peers reviewing work

Peer reviewed articles are scholarly sources that have undergone a review process before being published.  Experts in a particular filed of study submit their original research in the form of an article to a journal publisher. Before it can be published, it will be evaluated and critiqued by researchers and experts in the same field (hence - reviewed by their peers).

Primary sources

For certain assignments you might be asked to use primary sources. Primary sources are works created at the time of an event, or bya person who directly experienced an event. It is the content that matters and an on­line source can still be a primary source. For example, an online copy of a historical newspaper is still a primary source.

Found a digitized version in a library database? It's still a primary source

Primary sources can include:

  • Interviews, diaries, letters, journals, speeches, autobiographies, and witness statements
  • Original hand­written manuscripts
  • Government documents and public records
  • Art, photographs, films, maps, fiction, and music
  • Newspaper and magazine clippings
  • Artifacts, buildings, furniture, and clothing

Non-published literature

Grey Literature:  


Sources created by Governments, Research Organizations, Charities and other NGO's.



  • Reports & publications from governmental and nongovernmental organizations
  • Technical reports and standards
  • White papers
  • Annual reports
  • Blogs and social media
  • Conference proceedings and abstracts
  • Newsletters
  • Thesis and dissertations



Not published by conventional publishing companies, some are only available on the organization's website



  • Well researched,
  • Current coverage of emerging issues
  • Local and Canadian content
  • Data and statistics
  • Personal and lived experiences
  • Different viewpoints from standard academic articles


You will have to search both Google and the Library's databases to find grey literature.


* Remember to be critical of all your sources, always look for bias.

Graduate Quiz Sources