Chapter 4: Types of Sources: Scholarly, Trade, & Popular

In this chapter, you will learn about 3 common types of sources you will encounter as you research: Scholarly, trade, and popular. Understanding the differences between each of these types of sources and recognizing specific characteristics of each will help you to identify various types of sources as you come across them.

Learning Objectives:

  • Identify specific characteristics of scholarly, trade, and popular sources.
  • Differentiate between scholarly, trade, and popular sources.

ACRL Frame Alignment:

Common Types of Sources

Magazines stacked in piles

As you research you will come across several different types of information sources.  Each type of source has its own purpose and audience, and each can contribute to your research in a different way. It is important to recognize what type of source you are looking at, so that you can best utilize the information. Some common types of sources that you will come across are:

  • (also called academic)
  • popular
  • trade

Within each of these source categories there are specific types of each. For example:

  • Scholarly sources include: research and review articles
  • Popular sources include: newspapers, magazines, books, websites
  • Trade sources include: specialized magazine or news publications

Each type of source and publication have characteristics that you can look for to help you identify what type of source it is.


Photo by Charisse Kenion on Unsplash