Scholarly sources are usually the main type of sources students are trying to find when they use evidence to support or refute an argument in their research. Additionally, it may be stressed by your professor that you read or use articles from a scholarly journal.
Characteristics of scholarly sources include:
Written for a specific field/discipline
Include lengthy research or technically oriented reports
Usually written by researchers, experts, scholars of the field/discipline
Include citations and references
May be 'peer-reviewed' by other researchers, experts and scholars before publication
Scholarly journals are also known as 'academic journals', 'peer-reviewed journals'.
Popular sources are very useful in helping to provide evidence or context for your research.
Characteristics of popular sources include:
A publication that can be across any field or topic, usually a magazine or newspaper
May include colorful photos and advertisements
Usually written by journalists or professional writers for a general audience, but not always scholarly experts
Uses language that is easily understood by general readers and is written for the public
Rarely gives full citations for sources, though sources may be quoted
Is usually shorter than journal articles
A primary source provides direct or firsthand evidence about a person, place or thing and was created during the time period in which it occurred. A wide variety of formats can be considered a primary source, as long as they meet the above criteria.
Autobiographies and memoirs
Personal letters, diaries and business correspondence
Internet communications including emails, memos, blogs, ListServs and newsgroups
Photographs, drawings and posters
Scholarly articles (written during relevant time period)
Books, magazines and newspapers (published during relevant time period)
A secondary source is something that has been created after the time period in which it occurred and by someone who may or may not have had first hand knowledge of the topic. They may describe, discuss, interpret, comment upon, analyze, evaluate or summarize. Sometimes they will reorganize materials to make it easier to find primary source information - such as in the case of an encyclopedia.