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Summer Start 2015: Scholarly vs. Popular

Scholarly, Popular, or Trade?

One very important difference between scholarly journals and other types of publications is peer review.

The terms scholarly, refereed, and peer reviewed tend to be used interchangeably. These terms refer to:

  • An academic journal (which is different from a magazine)
  • which has strict guidelines in place to ensure that the content published is accurate, authoritative, and complete
  • The process these journals use to ensure that their content meets these standards requires other experts in the subject matter to judge, or referee, the value of the article submitted for publication. This is what is known as the "peer review process."

You can find peer reviewed journal articles:

  • In an online database like JSTOR, Academic Search Complete, etc.
  • By looking at one of the peer reviewed journals in the library's print collection.

Video: Scholarly, Popular, or Trade?

Different types of publications have different purposes and different audiences. When we talk about journals and magazines, we can usually divide these publications into three categories: 

  • scholarly
  • popular
  • trade

Scholarly vs. Popular

Want a crash course in academic journals and the library databases you use to search for them? Check out this great video put out by RMIT University:

What's a library database? | RMIT University

         Scholarly Journals Popular Magazines

Written for professionals within the field of study.

Written for the "average" person who doesn't have in-depth knowledge of a topic.

Authors are usually experts, often university researchers. Author’s credentials are usually included.
Author is usually a staff writer or journalist.  The author’s name is often not provided.
Content Research, analysis, scholarship. Often includes abstract, research, methods, conclusion, and a bibliography. Sources are always cited in the form of footnotes or bibliographies. Entertainment, opinion, current topics, quick facts. Rarely, if ever, cite sources.
Credibility Research articles must be reviewed by a panel of experts within the field before they are published. Articles are generally evaluated by staff editors rather than experts within the field.
Length Longer articles providing in depth analysis of topics. Articles are usually short (1-4 pages) and provide a broad overview of the topic.
Look Serious looking. May contain charts and graphs yet will rarely contain advertisements. Glossy, color pictures, advertisements.
Purpose Purpose is to report on original research to make the information available to the scholarly/scientific community. Purpose is to inform the general reader, entertain, promote a viewpoint, and/or sell products.
  • JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical  Association
  • Journal of Marriage and the Family
  • Studies in Short Fiction
  • Journal of American History
  • Science
  • Foreign Affairs
  • Shakespeare Quarterly
  • Journal of Animal Science

  • Newsweek
  • New Yorker
  • Time
  • Vogue
  • Psychology Today
  • Atlantic
  • Discover
  • National Review
  • People
  • Sports Illustrated

An Introduction to Peer Review

A short five minute video that explains what the peer review process entails and why peer reviwed articles are considered credible, valuable sources.