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How do I... determine a Scholarly or Popular Source?


Determine a Scholarly or Popular Source


The key difference between scholarly and popular magazine articles is the required peer review process for scholarly journal articles.


Peer review is a publishing process in academic fields. Before editors decide whether to accept an article for publication in a scholarly journal, they need to send this article to other researchers in this article's subject area to do a review. This process is called "peer review" because the author's peers (i.e. other scholars) decide if the article should be published.


Below are some of the characteristics of scholarly journals and popular magazines and newspapers.



Type of Periodical Scholarly Journal Popular Magazine or Newspaper

Original Research

In-Depth Analysis

Current Events / Popular topics / Interviews
Not original research by the author
Writing Level Technical language
Assumes college education
Simple, elementary language
Assumes only 8th grade education!
Authors Researchers, Academics
Experts in the subject they are writing about
Not subject experts
Sources Almost always has a list of Works Cited
Extensive documentation
Rarely documents sources
Documentation vague (e.g. "A study was done...")
Published By Scholarly societies, University Presses Commercial publishers
Pictures and Paper Few or no photographs
Includes charts or tables
Regular white paper
Many photographs and pictures
Glossy paper
Examples Sociological Review
Journal of Asian Studies
Journal of Philosophy
People Weekly
Sports Illustrated
New York Times
Denver Post
Length Tends to be longer Tends to be shorter