Skip to main content

Communication 104: Find Articles

What's the difference between scholarly and popular sources?

Your instructor said that you cannot use the Internet to find sources for your paper. Instead, you have to use "scholarly journals" and other academic resources from the library. So what does that mean?

Scholarly journals are published by universities, societies, or associations of specialized fields. Articles are written by scholars in that field who present the results of original research and experimentation or provide technical or professional information. They go through a peer-review evaluation process before being published. Peer-reviewed articles are reviewed by other scholars in the same field who provide feedback about the article's quality, accuracy, relevance to scholarship in the field, validity of research methodology and procedures, and more.

Scholarly Journals

Scholarly journal images

  • Focused on a particular field of study
  • Based on original research or experimentation
  • Written by scholars or experts in a particular field
  • Read by professionals, students or educators in the subject area
  • Use scholarly, technical, research-oriented language
  • Include references, bibliographies or footnotes
  • Contain little or no advertising

Start Your Research Here

The following library databases, CQ Researcher and Opposing Viewpoints, are great places to begin you research. If you haven't decided on a topic, you might browse these databases for potential topics. Please note, these databases are great resources for "in the news" social/political/economic topics. If you have a more specific topic e.g. should we abolish the penny, you will find more results using general databases such as EbscoHost.

  • CQ Researcher - Coverage of current events topics. Also provides pro/con for current issues. You can type in your search topic, browse by date or browse by topic. If you find a report on a topic you are interested in, you can e-mail, print or download the report. Make sure you click on the "Cite Now!" link. This will create a citation for the report in APA or MLA format. See this feature illustrated in this video.
  • Opposing Viewpoints - An online database that presents the pro and con of social issues, as well as providing statistics and reliable websites.
  • Congressional Digest -  A monthly publication that focuses on a single political controversy in each issue, providing a general overview with an outline of proposed legislation. The "Pros and Cons" section typically comprised of statements by Congressional and interest group representatives. Click on the year links on the right-hand side of the page to view individual issues. Read more about Congressional Digest here


Open CRS

OPEN CRS (Congressional Research Service) Freely available reports from the Congressional Research Service. American taxpayers spend over $100 million a year to fund the Congressional Research Service, a "think tank" that provides reports to members of Congress on a variety of topics relevant to current political events. Yet, these reports are not made available to the public in a way that they can be easily obtained. Open CRS provides citizens access to CRS Reports that are already in the public domain.

Popular Magazines

Popular magazine images

  • General interest stories or entertainment information
  • Based on fact-finding and/or opinion
  • Written by staff writers or journalists
  • Read by the general public
  • Easy to understand language
  • Usually do not include references
  • Contain lots of colorful advertising

Find More Specific Resources

Use the following databases to find articles about your topic. These databases index journals, newspapers and other material. 


Featured Periodical Publications

  • Vital Speeches of the Day - Text of speeches on wide range of political topics. (1934 - Present)
  • Congressional Digest - Reports on pros and cons, background and verbatim arguments of legislation before Congress, each issue dealing with one law under consideration. (1921 - Present)