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Scholarly vs. Popular Articles
In general, scholarly articles are viewed as having more authority. Articles from the popular press are viewed as having less credibility. This is why faculty often request students find "scholarly or academic journal", not "popular magazine" articles for their research sources. 

When you select articles for research and when you view full text articles online you need to make a distinction between scholarly and popular material. Academic Search Premier article database allows users to limit searches to "peer reviewed" publications. Use the table below to help you identify whether an article is from the scholarly or popular press.

  Scholarly Publication:
Journals, print and online
Popular Publication:
Magazines and newspapers, print and online
Botany Journal Cover
People Magazine Cover
Author Is a noted professional or expert Is a journalist, student, popular author; or may not be listed
Advertising Very little or highly specialized Significant amount
Audience Advanced reading level; may have specialized vocabulary Basic reading level for a general audience
Bibliography, Sources or 
List of Works Cited
A list of references is included at the end of each article Articles rarely include references, bibliographies or lists of works cited
Indexing Articles are listed in specialized databases and indexes; for example PsycINFO, Biosis or Humanities Index Articles are listed in general databases and indexes; for example Reader's Guide, Sirs  or  Periodicals Index
Level of Language higher level language, topics are more narrowly focused, serious tone, words used are specific to a discipline, written by experts broad and simple language, general topics, written to be understood by  almost anyone 
Purpose Discusses a specific scholarly field Current events, general interest items
Review Policy Articles are reviewed by peers; experts in the field. Editorial board is composed of scholars in the field Editor or editorial board are members of the magazine's staff
More Examples
Journal of Biological Chemsitry Cover

Harvard Business Review, Lancet, Modern Fiction Studies, Nature

Time Magazine Cover

People, Cooking Light, US News and World Report, Publisher's Weekly, Sports Illustrated, National Inquirer

Tip: There are reference books which attempt to describe and evaluate magazines and journals. If you need further information about a title you may want to consult:

Katz, William A. and Katz, Linda Sternberg (2000). Magazines for libraries: for the general reader and school, junior college, college, university, and public libraries (10th ed). New York:Bowker.

Updated March 5, 2009 . Please send comments to Carol Hansen
Weber State University, Stewart Library. Copyright © 2016 All Rights Reserved.

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