Using Popular Sources

What are popular articles?

When doing research on a topic, it is important to use reliable sources of information. Often we use scholarly articles, which present research and information directly from the source. However, we can also use reliable popular articles to find good information on a topic. Popular articles can be found in general interest publications like newspaper and magazines. While they are not scholarly, popular articles from respected publications can provide excellent background information as well as stories, opinion pieces, images, and more personal points of view on a topic. These can help bring life and interest to your research project.

In addition, while scholarly articles often report the findings of a study or experiment for experts in a field, popular articles report those same findings in a way that is easier for the general public to understand.

There are many places to find popular articles. Many publications, such as the New York Times, Scientific American, Popular Science, or Fortune Magazine have their own websites. The UW-Madison Libraries also have access to several databases that contain popular articles.

Finding Popular Articles in UW-Libraries Databases

Using a newspaper database

  1. From the UW-Madison Libraries homepage, click the red “Catalog” button on the left side of the page. This will open a drop-down menu.
  2. Select “Databases” from the drop-down menu.
  3. Click “Browse by Subject”.
  4. Near the bottom right of the page, click on “Newspapers” under “By Type”.
  5. Select “Newspaper Source Plus”.
  6. Click “View Online.”
  7. Type your keywords into the search boxes and click “Search”.
  8. You can limit your search to types of newspapers, such as United States or international, under “Source Types” in the left bar.
  9. Click on an article title to read the full article, or click the “Find It” button to find the full text.

Using Academic Search

  1. From the UW-Madison Libraries homepage, click the red “Catalog” button on the left side of the page. This will open a drop-down menu.
  2. Select “Databases” from the drop-down menu.
  3. Select “Introductory Databases”
  4. Select “Academic Search”.
  5. Type your keywords into the search boxes and click “Search”.
  6. Limit your search to “Magazines” and “Newspapers” under “Source Types” in the left bar.
  7. Click on an article title to read the full article, or click the “Find It” button to find the full text.