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Research Toolkit: Popular vs Scholarly Sources

Research toolkit to help you learn how to find the information you need.

 Related Guides: Find Articles - The BasicsFind a Scholarly Article


 

Many of your assignments / speeches for your courses may ask you to use specific sources or types of sources such as popular magazine articles or professional or scholarly journal articles.

There are some basic ways to identify these types of periodicals:

Popular vs Scholarly Articles

Popular Popular Scholarly Scholarly
Newspaper Magazine Trade Scholarly/Peer Reviewed
Currency Published daily Published weekly, monthly, or quarterly Published monthly or quarterly Published monthly, quarterly, or semi annually
Relevancy Articles give news of the day or current events Articles focus on any general topic or on topics of interest to a specific group Articles give practical information to people in an industry Articles are usually reports on scholarly research or case studies
Relevancy Newspapers contain many photographs ad advertisements Magazines contain many photographs and advertisements Trade publications include some illustrations given usually as charts, graphs, etc. Illustrations usually take the form of charts and graphs. Scholarly journals contain few photographs or advertisements
Authority Authors may or may not be named, usually a freelance writer or journalist, not a subject expert Authors may or may not be named, a staff writer or freelance writer, not a subject expert Authors are named, a specialists or professional in the industry Authors are experts in their field or industry, articles are signed, and credentials such as degrees, university affiliation are often given
Authority Articles are written at the 8th grade level Articles are written at the 8th grade level Articles use jargon of the industry Articles use jargon of hte subject discipline; written for scholars, researchers, or professionals in the discipline
Accuracy There is no peer review process There is no peer review process There may be a peer review process, but not as rigorous as scholarly articles Articles go through a peer review process before being accepted for publication
Accuracy Authors often mention sources, but do not include a bibliography Authors often mention sources, but do not include a bibliography Authors often mention sources, and include a limited bibliography Authors cite their sources in endnotes, footnotes, or reference section

Purpose
Content

To find current information about local, national, and international events To find information or opinions about popular culture, to find general articles written for people who are not necessarily specialists in the topic area To find information on problems, issues or solutions in a specific industry. Use for college research Reports on scholarly research or case studies. Use for college research
Purpose
Appearance
(Look and Feel)
Catchy article titles, color, photos, short articles Catchy covers, a lot of advertising, colorful, photos, short articles Visual cover, contains advertising related to the industry, color, photos, average 3-5 page articles Plain covers, little or no advertising, has tables & charts, high concentration of print, lengthy articles 7-25 pages
Purpose
Intent: Persuade,
Entertain,
Inform
Articles are meant to inform and entertain. Written for the general public Articles are meant to inform, persuade, and entertain. Written for the general public Articles are meant to inform people in the industry. Written for people in the industry or seeking employment in the industry Articles are meant to inform. Articles are geared toward scholars, researchers, or professionals