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Library 101: Popular v. Scholarly

Popular and Scholarly Journals

Popular magazines 

Articles are written by staff writers or reporters, not necessarily experts.  Articles are written for the general public.  There is a great deal of advertising and generally there are no bibliographies or references. 

Timesports illustratednewsweekChristianity todayNew Republic

Scholarly Journals

The articles are written by experts in the field.  The authors' credentials including their academic degrees are listed.  The articles are written for other scholars and generally in the language of that discipline.  Usually there is not much advertising.  There are bibliographies and references.  

American Journal of PsychologyArt HistoryEarly MusicJournal of Cell BiologyJournal of the Society of Architectural Historians

Research Articles

Scholars write and publish articles to present the findings of their research.  Scholarly journals publish these, sometimes after a process where a scholar’s peers will review the research and offer comments and suggestions. These journals are peer-reviewed.  

These research articles will have lists of sources which the scholar reviewed as part of their research. Often there is an abstract (summary) and the author’s credentials are listed. 

Searching for Scholarly Journal Articles

Most databases provide some way to limit your search to just look for scholarly or peer reviewed journals.  When limiting this way, check the article itself to make sure the article is scholarly.  Sometimes you'll get letters to the editor or book reviews.