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ENG 103/201: Composition

This guide will introduce you to the steps of the research process and resources relevant to College Reading & Writing students.

Scholarly vs. Popular: What Do We Mean?

Use the navigation arrows on the presentation below to see the differences between source types.

When we talk about "scholarly vs. popular," it's not really a matter of either/or. For most projects, you'll likely want to use both! This is both because of the characteristics of the source types described above and because of something we call the information timeline.

Information Timeline

As new information comes out, it's shared in different venues through a series of stages over time.

Information Timeline and its stages

Information Timeline Graphic by adstarkel. Used under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Information Timeline

  • Event Occurs
  • Within minutes: Social Media
    • "Breaks" the story. Info may be incomplete, false, or biased.
    • Examples: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, blogs
  • Within days: News Sites, TV, Radio & Daily Newspapers
    • As time passes, info gets added, updated, and verified. Opinions emerge.
    • Examples:, Fox News, BBC Radio, New York Times
  • Within a week: Weekly Magazines
    • Offers more insight. Likely to include context info, interviews, related topics.
    • Examples: Time, Newsweek, People, The New Yorker
  • Within a month: Monthly Magazines
    • Additional time allows for better reporting. May include opinions.
    • Examples: Wired, Scientific American, National Geographic
  • 3+ Months Later: Scholarly Journals
    • Written by experts. Well-research and objective.
    • Examples: Journal of American Culture, Nature, JAMA
  • 12+ Months Later: Books
    • Benefit most from hindsight. Give most in-depth coverage of topic.
    • Examples: Nonfiction titles, biographies, textbooks, reference materials