Scholarly vs. Popular Sources for Medical Research


It is critical for a person conducting research to have the ability to distinguish the key differences between scholarly and popular sources of information. The biggest difference lies in the fact that the overall perspective of academic studies is to be informative, whereas popular sources present their outlook through the eyes of the masses or individuals. In addition, it is also important to be able to understand when to use either one of them, because scholarly sources are solid data to back up precise arguments, whereas popular sources are good at addressing common social issues.

Scholarly Sources

Facts in science fulfill not only the role of the information source and the empirical basis of theoretical reasoning, but also serve as a criterion for their reliability and truth. In turn, the theory forms the conceptual basis of the fact: it identifies the studied aspect of reality, sets the language in which the facts are described, and determines the means and methods of experimental research. The difficulty here lies in separating reliable facts from false, seeming ones. For example, both chemical and physical restraint tools are actively used among older people in order to prevent them from harming themselves. However, the lack of strict regulations can lead to a significant amount of abuse, which is detrimental to a patient’s health and wellbeing. Physical restraint devices are used up to 17%, and whereas psychotropic drugs are used up to 34% in long term care facilities (Agens 302). This is an example of an academic or scholarly source, which researches a clear and outlined problem by deriving factual data.

When selecting facts, one must be scientifically objective. Facts cannot be thrown aside just because they are difficult to explain or find a practical application for them. In fact, the essence of the new in science is not always clearly visible to the researcher. New scientific facts, sometimes quite large, due to the fact that their significance is poorly disclosed, can remain in the reserve of science for a long time and not be used in practice.

The popular sources are the best tools to use to understand and represent public opinion. In order to better understand the essence of popular sources, it should be decomposed into two obvious components – the public and opinion. When installations become sufficiently stable, they float to the surface in the form of views. When opinions become adequately stable, they lead to verbal or active acts. It follows that public opinion is a set of opinions of individuals regarding a common problem affecting the interests of any group of people. In other words, public opinion is a kind of agreement arising from the coinciding attitudes of people regarding the problem.

The desire to influence a person’s beliefs, that is, what he/she thinks about this problem, how it relates to it and is the primary principle of the practice of public relations. For example, the article in the Guardian discusses the topic of chemical restraints as a major component of elder abuse (Russell). The tone and perspective are highly different from an academic source because it pushes a certain agenda or emotional response. Thus, popular sources are essential to reflect public opinion and its issues by adding relevant data, when needed. Indeed, individual perception of reality may or may not represent a consensus, and it more fully describes the types of opinions as a result of communication.


In conclusion, popular sources are a much more voluminous phenomenon than a simple sum of points of view expressed by a certain set of individuals. Public opinion arises within a group of people who communicate with each other, together agreeing on the essence of the problem, its likely social consequences, and considering what measures should be taken. However, academic sources are more precise and detailed on a certain issue, and it contains strong and solid data on the subject, which can be used to support specific arguments.

Works Cited

Agens, John Ellis. “Chemical and Physical Restraint Use in the Older Person”. British Journal of Medical Practitioners, vol. 3, no. 1, 2010, pp. 302-308.

Russell, Sarah. “’Robbed of Precious Time’: Chemical Restraints and Aged Care.” The Guardian. 2018, Web.