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BIOL 130: Cell Biology & Genetics: Popular vs. Scholarly

Popular vs. Scholarly Video

 

Popular vs. Scholar
Learn to differentiate between popular and scholarly sources and will be able to use them appropriately in their research.

(CLIP video, 5 min.)

Comparing Scholarly and Popular Articles

Examples of Scholarly & Popular Articles

Image of examples of scholarly and popular journals

Differences Between Scholarly and Popular

POPULAR SOURCES

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS

Appears in magazines and newspapers, often with glossy or eye-catching covers.  Geared toward a broad, general audience, and articles are reviewed by professional staff editors.

STRUCTURE

Language is meant to be understood by the general population.  Tend to be shorter than journal articles.  May include pictures, special layouts and/or advertisements. Do not usually list references or notes. 

USES

Review process is short in order to get published quickly. Good place to look for current info and events, and useful for getting an overview of a topic. May tell human interest stories or convey emotional responses.  

 

SCHOLARLY SOURCES

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS

Published in subject-specific journals typically available through subscription only; won't find them in stores.  Geared towards scholars and experts in the field, and are reviewed by other scholars in the field (known as the peer-review process).

STRUCTURE

Appear in subject-specific journals, and are written by and for scholars and researchers.  Often refereed or peer-reviewed.  May include graphs, data and/or statistics about the research. Use subject-specific terminology and phrases.  Usually includes a list of references or notes, and articles tend to be more lengthy.

USES

Useful for gathering subject-specific info, research and data. Major way for scholars to communicate, and may present or review research or criticism on a given topic. Quality and reliability of the info is much greater, particularly if it is peer-reviewed.

 

POINTS TO REMEMBER

  • Both scholarly and popular sources can be useful sources. 
  • When selecting articles, consider how you intend to use the information: 
    • Do you want background on a topic? (popular
    • Do you need reliable and well-research information? (scholarly) 
  • Often a combination of the two will be most appropriate for undergraduate research.