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How to Find Scholarly and Popular Journal Articles : Scholarly Journals vs. Popular Magazines

Find articles using databases

What is a Scholarly Journal?

Scholarly Journals are sometimes also called peer-reviewed journals, or refereed journals.

Indentifying scholarly articles involves analysis of the article's content.

There is not always a clear-cut division between types of published articles, but the table to the right outlines some differences between a scholarly and a popular journals.

Limit to Scholarly Journals

Most databases provide an option to limit the results to peer-reviewed or scholarly journals. 

EBSCO's Academic Search is a good example of this. 

Scholarly vs. Popular


Scholarly Journals

Popular Magazines
  Author Usually a scholar or researcher with expertise in the subject area; Author's credentials and/or affiliation are given. Author's name may or may not be given; often a professional writer; may or may not have expertise in the subject area.
  Audience Other scholars, researchers, and students. General public; the interested non-specialist.
  Language Specialized terminology or jargon of the field; requires expertise in subject area  (or a good specialized dictionary!). Vocabulary in general usage; easily understandable to most readers.
  Graphics Graphs, charts, and tables; very few advertisements and photographs. Graphs, charts and tables; lots of glossy advertisements and photographs.

  Layout &

Structured; generally includes the article abstract, objectives, methodology, analysis, results (evidence), discussion, conclusion, and bibliography. Informal; may include non-standard formatting. May not present supporting evidence or a conclusion.
  Accountability Articles are evaluated by peer-reviewers or referees who are experts in the field; edited for content, format, and style. Articles are evaluated by editorial staff, not experts in the field; edited for format and style.
  References Always has a list of references or bibliography; sources of quotes and facts are cited and can be verified. Rarely has a list of references; usually does not give complete information about sources of information.
  Examples Annals of MathematicsJournal of Abnormal PsychologyHistory of Education Quarterly, almost anything with Journal in the title.

TimeNewsweekThe NationThe Economist

Another type of publication is called a Trade Publication (also referred to as professional or practitioner publications).

These are directed towards a specific industry or profession.  At  first glance, trade publications can look like popular magazines because they are glossy and contain many images, but the actual content is different from popular magazines in its scope, specificity and perspective.

Example: Advertising Age


Adapted from a LibGuide by Beth Rohloff at Tufts University's Tisch Library.