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MUS 284--Popular Music and Digital Culture (Summer 2020): Scholarly or Not?

Scholarly

 

What is a Scholarly Article or Book?

A scholarly article or book generally is based on original research or experimentation. It is written by a researcher or expert in the field who is often affiliated with a college or university. Most scholarly writing includes footnotes and/or a bibliography and may include graphs or charts as illustrations as opposed to glossy pictures. In addition, articles that appear in scholarly journals or book that are published by academic presses, are subject to a peer-review process, which means that other "experts" or specialist in the field evaluate the quality and originality of the research as precondition of publication.

The peer-review (as opposed to editorial review) process is also one thing that sets scholarly journals apart from journals that may otherwise seem quite similar. Journals such as Foreign Affairs, for instance, are generally not considered "scholarly journals," because many of the articles are solicited by the magazine's editors; in addition many of the articles are written by policy-makers who may be expressing an informed view, but whose article may not be based on original research.

Scholarly research is typically published by a academic association or a university/academic press. 

Scholarly vs. Popular

Characteristics

Academic

Non-Academic

Length

Articles are usually 10 pages or more in length; providing in-depth analysis of topics

Shorter articles (less than 10 pages), providing broader overview of topics

Written by

Author usually an expert or specialist in the field, name and credentials always provided

Author usually a journalist or a staff writer, name and credentials often not provided

Language/Written for

Written in technical language for professors, researchers, students of the field

Written at high school level for the general public

Coverage

Original research results and scholarship

Popular topics and current events

Slant

Supposed to present objective/neutral viewpoint;

May reflect the editorial bias/slant of the magazine

Frequency

Usually quarterly

Usually weekly

Format/Structure

Articles usually structured, may include: abstract, literature review, methodology, results, conclusion, bibliography

Articles do not necessarily follow a specific format or structure

Special Features

Illustrations that support the text, such as, tables of statistics, graphs, diagrams, maps, or photographs

Illustrations with glossy paper or color photographs

Appearance

Serious and sober, with few colors and few or no advertisements

Glossy, with pictures and advertisements

Editors

Articles usually reviewed and critically evaluated by a board of experts in the field (known as refereed or peer-reviewed)

Articles are not reviewed by experts in the field, but by editors on staff

References Cited

Usually includes a bibliography and/or footnotes

Usually has no bibliography or footnotes

Examples

Ecology

Social Science Quarterly

American Political Science Review

 

Time

Newsweek

Sports Illustrated

Scientific American

A Word about Books

      

A Word of Warning!! Just because the library owns a book, it doesn't mean the book qualifies as academic. Use the hints below and in the chart to determine if the book is scholarly/ academic or popular.

Most of the items in the chart can also apply to books. Ask some of the following questions:

Who is the author and is s/he an expert? Read the book jacket or information often located in the beginning or end of the book. Try Google or Amazon to see what else the author might have written and to check his affiliation. Check the online catalog to see if the library has other items written by the author.

Who is the publisher? Do they have a specialty? University presses, some societies, and some associations usually publish academic titles, but some other publishers do as well. Visit their website to see their focus.

Is there a bibliography, references or footnotes?

What is the language of the book? Is it technical or is it for the general public.

Is it well-organized with a clear structure? Does it have a preface, a table of contents, an introduction, an index?