With so many articles out there, how do you tell the difference between popular and scholarly sources? And why do you think knowing the difference between popular and scholarly sources might be important?
Popular literature appears in magazines and newspapers. The covers are often glossy or eye-catching, and can be purchased at bookshops or newsstands. These sources are geared toward a broad, general audience, and the articles are reviewed by professional staff editors.
Language is meant to be understood by the general population. Articles appear in magazines or newspapers. Tend to be shorter than journal articles. May include pictures, special layouts and/or advertisements. Articles do not usually list references or notes.
Popular sources may present news and current events. The review process to publish popular articles is short, so they can be a good place to look for very current information. Popular sources may tell human interest stories or convey emotional responses. They can also be useful for getting an overview of a topic.
EXAMPLES OF POPULAR MAGAZINES
Scholarly literature is published in subject-specific journals. Some examples below include the Journal of the American Medical Association, or JAMA, and International Studies Quarterly. Scholarly journals are typically available through subscription only. You won't usually find them in stores. These articles are geared towards scholars and experts in the field, and they undergo reviewing by other scholars in the field, known as the peer-review process.
Articles appear in subject-specific journals, and are written by and for scholars and researchers. Articles are often refereed or peer-reviewed. They may include graphs, data and/or statistics about their research. The language used is subject-specific, so it will include professional terms and phrases. The articles usually include a list of references or notes, and tend to be longer.
Scholarly literature is useful for gathering subject specific information, research and data. It is a way for scholars to communicate, and may present or review research or criticism on a given topic. When this literature is peer-reviewed, scholars are aware that the quality and reliability of the information presented in these articles is much greater.
EXAMPLES OF SCHOLARLY JOURNALS
POINTS TO REMEMBER
You might find that resources provided by your library can be really helpful, and you can access many of these resources online through your library's website. Ulrich's Periodicals is also another useful online resource when trying to determine whether a journal is peer-reviewed or not. Click here to learn more about peer-review.
Don't forget that our librarians are excellent resources!