There is often confusion for high school students when it comes to the differences between popular and scholarly articles.  This list below will help you determine the nature of the article.


  • Usually written by a journalist
  • Intended for the general public
  • Uses common language
  • Articles are normally shorter than academic sources
  • Rarely contains citations for the sources


  • Usually written by an expert in the field
  • Intended for others that are in the same discipline
  • Uses technical language and jargon
  • Articles are normally in-depth
  • Often contains citations for sources

These difference are not to say which source is better or worse.  It is often helpful in research to start with popular sources, then move to more academic articles are you gain more background knowledge on the topic.