Skip to Main Content

College Writing Library Tutorial: Popular v. Scholarly

Popular and Scholarly Periodicals

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 which appear in scholarly journals are written by experts in the field and have been peer-reviewed as part of the publication process.  The authors' credentials, including their academic degrees, and instituitional affliliation are listed.  Scholarly articles are written for other scholars and generally in the language of that discipline.  Usually there is not much advertising.  An abstract should accompany the article as well as a lengthy reference page.

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

Research Articles

Scholars and researchers write and publish articles in order to present research findings.  By publishing articles, the researchers can dissementate their  findings and contribute to the body of knowledge on a particular issue. Most scholarly journals publish articles after a peer-review process where other scholars review both research methodology and conclusions for accuracy. Since the articles have been reviewed by other experts in the field, scholarly articles are considered one of the most reliable sources of information and are frequently required as a source for college-level research papers.  

Searching for Scholarly Journal Articles

Most databases allow you to limit results to only scholarly journals.  When using the scholarly journal limiter, review the characteristics of the articles to determine if it is in fact scholarly since on occasion you may find letters to the editor or book reviews in scholarly journals and these are not considered scholarly articles.