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Life, Society & Drugs: Appropriate Sources

This guides shows how to identify appropriate sources for Salt Lake Community College's Life, Society & Drugs course

Understanding Source Types

Information can come from anywhere: social media, blogs, books, academic journal articles, magazine or newspaper articles, and more. The type of information source you use will depend on your research question and your professor’s requirements. There are two main types of sources: scholarly and popular. For HLTH 1050, you primarily will use scholarly sources.

Distinguishing between Scholarly and Popular Sources

Distinguish between the two types of sources by considering a source's purpose, authors, and audience. 


  • A scholarly source informs and reports on original research done by scholars and experts in the field.
  • A popular source entertains and informs a general audience without providing in-depth analysis.

Does the article provide a general overview or an update on a topic? Or does the article take a "deep dive" into a particular facet of the topic? Scholarly articles will do the latter.


  • A scholarly source is written by subject specialists and experts in the field.
  • A popular source is typically written by a journalist, freelance writer, or editorial staff member.

Scholarly articles will also be written by experts. Expertise is determined by education and experience, so check to see if the author has expertise on the particular topic or field.


  • A scholarly source is intended for a limited audience - researcher, scholars, or fellow experts.
  • A popular source is intended for a broad segment of the population, appealing to non-specialists.

Scholarly articles are written for a limited audience, and because of this, they will often use technical jargon. On the other hand, popular sources have a wider audience. Think about a local newspaper, like the Salt Lake Tribune; it is written so anyone in the valley can pick it up and read it.

Scholarly Source Examples

For HLTH 1050, most scholarly sources will be academic journal articles.

Popular Source Examples

Popular sources are often newspaper or magazine articles, general website articles, etc.

  • McLaughlin, Kathleen. “Deadly Chemistry.” Science, vol. 355, no. 6332, Mar. 2017, pp. 1364–1366.
  • Morris, Evelyn Krache. “Think Again: Mexican Drug Cartels.” Foreign Policy, no. 203, Dec. 2013, pp. 30–33. JSTOR,

How can I learn more about scholarly sources?

Use the SLCC Libraries module on scholarly articles to learn more, including how to evaluate, summarize, and find them.