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BIO 101: Popular Reputable Magazines & Newspapers

What makes a resource "reputable"

When trying to determine how reputable and reliable a resource is, ask yourself the questions below.

Authority: Who is the Author? Are they qualified or an expert in their field? Is there contact information for online author(s) (for websites)?

Accuracy: Can the facts in the resource be double checked against other sources? Does the resource have good references/citations or does it link to other reputable resources (in the case of internet resources)?

Currency: Is the research or information in the resources current and fresh? Is it more the 5 years old? Is it considered current for its field?

Objectivity: Is the resource free of bias or opinion? Is the author trying to sell an idea, product or point of view? is the information factual and objective rather than subjective?

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

Relevant Resources for BIO 101 (Fall 2022)

For this class you are not required to use primary scholarly literature, a category of high level academic sources written by scholars. This type of literature frequently reports research results, and is often peer-reviewed. Instead you are required to use popular but reputable sources. Since determining if a source is "reputable" requires critical thinking skills, consider the following description of reputable sources, used with the permission of the University of Alabama Libraries. 

Generally, a reputable source is a publication with a strong track record of publishing accurate and verifiable information. There will be some kind of editorial oversight, e.g., a peer-review of articles in a scholarly journal or fact-checking in a newspaper article. National newspapers like the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal and magazines like Time, Scientific American, Science, and Nature are examples of popular, reputable sources. Some sources to avoid are blogs with no editors or accountability; newspapers and magazines with obvious political leanings and biases; and small newspapers and magazines, which might not go through editing/fact-checking. 

Examine the source to see if it explains its editorial policy and how articles are approved for publication. Or Google the title to see if there are any reported "red flags" such as bias or questionable content. To try to determine accuracy, check what other sources are saying about the topic. Are other news media outlets reporting the same set of facts?  

Finally, be on the lookout for items that are labelled OpinionAnalysis or Letter to the Editor.  These might not stick to the facts, and you might want to think twice about using them in your paper.

If you have any doubt about a source, before you use it, check with your professor or a librarian.