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What is the difference between a popular and a scholarly source?

If you are not familiar with scholarly publications, it can be difficult to tell the difference between scholarly and popular periodicals. There are no definitive rules for distinguishing between the two, but here are some guidelines:

Scholarly (e.g., academic journals):

  • Are written by professionals within an academic field or discipline.
  • Contain research projects, methodology, and theory.
  • Have few, if any, advertisements.
  • Use college-level or specialized vocabulary of the discipline.
  • Include articles with extensive bibliographies, footnotes, or other documentation.
  • Contain graphics that are often black & white and consist of tables, charts, and diagrams.
  • Are peer-reviewed or refereed.

Popular (e.g., magazines, newspapers):

  • Are written by journalists.
  • Contain general news articles written to inform, update, or introduce a new issue.
  • Have many full-color, full-page advertisements.
  • Use a general, non-technical vocabulary.
  • Include articles with little or no documentation.
  • Contain graphics that are often full-color pictures and illustrations.

Why Use A Database?

Search a database to find journal, magazine, or newspaper articles. Some databases also provide access to other materials such as dissertations, book chapters, books, sound recordings, videos, etc.

Some databases have the full text or abstracts (summaries) of articles, if not, follow these instructions to figure out if the library has the journal.

Multi-Subject Databases

These databases cover NAS and other disciplines.

Other Relevant Databases

These databases provide access to material in various subject areas that have proven useful to NAS students in the past. Think about your topic, and decide which subject database, below, may cover it. Other subjects, and links to relevant databases, are listed here: and research guides here:

Current News

These databases provide access to current newspaper articles. Dates vary, but generally, 1980s-present. See also Newspapers and Magazines Guide from the librarian for journalism and Microform Collections - Newspapers.


This page lists the major databases for Native American Studies, multi-subject databases, relevant databases from other disciplines, and current newspapers.

Native American Studies

These are the major databases for finding articles and other materials related to Native American Studies.