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Scholarly vs. Popular: A Quick Guide   Tags: subject_guide  

Last Updated: Jun 30, 2014 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates
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Scholarly vs. Popular Characteristics

Journal cover   Scholarly Journals

  • Authors are experts/authorities in their fields.
  • Authors cite their sources in endnotes, footnotes, or bibliographies.
  • Individual issues have little or no advertising.
  • Articles must go through a peer-review process (experts in the discipline evaluate each author's work before any articles are published).
  • Articles are usually reports on scholarly research.
  • Illustrations usually take the form of charts and graphs.
  • Articles use jargon of the discipline.
  • Articles are typically five or more pages in length.

Time Magazine    Popular Magazines

  • Authors are magazine staff members/regular columnists or free lance writers.
  • Authors often mention sources, but rarely formally cite them in bibliographies.
  • Individual issues contain numerous advertisements.
  • There is no peer review process.
  • Articles are meant to inform and entertain (thus they are also thought of as consumer publications because they are published for a wide audience).
  • Illustrations are numerous and colorful.
  • Language is geared to the general adult audience (no specialized knowledge of jargon needed).
  • Articles are typically fairly short (one or two columns to one or a few pages).


Compiled by Mary Anne Hansen and Sheila Bonnand


Scholarly vs. Popular Video

You know it when you see it.

From Peabody Library, Vanderbilt University.

Databases for Finding Scholarly Articles

Start here to find scholarly articles. Results in many databases can be limited to scholarly or peer-reviewed articles.

  • Academic Search Complete
    A full-text and bibliographic database with coverage of the social sciences, humanities, education, computer sciences, engineering, physics, chemistry, language and linguistics, arts & literature, medical sciences, ethnic studies, and more. It includes citations, abstracts, full text, and images.
  • InfoTrac PowerSearch
    Our largest database, including the entire content of five other databases: InfoTrac General OneFile, Academic OneFile, Opposing Viewpoints Reference Center, InfoTrac Custom Newspapers, and the Gale Virtual Reference Library.
  • MSU's Databases
    A list of all our databases, browse by title or by subject area.

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