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Student Resources: Scholarly or Popular?

Distinguishing Popular from Scholarly Periodicals

Scholarly vs. Popular Resources

  Scholarly Publication Popular Publication
Authors
  • Researchers or professionals in the discipline
  • Authors identified
  • Credentials and institutional affiliation provided
  • Journalists or writers
  • Authors may or may not be identified
  • May or may not be subject specialists
Audience
  • Scholars, researchers, and students
  • General public
Content
  • Detailed reports, often of original research
  • General coverage of current topics or popular interests
  • May include personal opinions (editorials)
Language
  • Written in the jargon of the discipline for scholarly readers
  • Written in non-technical language for anyone to understand
Organization
  • Tend to be longer
  • Often include abstracts, objectives, literature reviews, methodologies, results, and conclusions
  • Non-text elements often limited to tables, charts, or illustrations of subjects
  • Tend to be shorter; some only 1 or 2 pages long
  • Could include illustrations with glossy or color photographs, often for advertising purposes
Publisher
  • Professional organization, university, research institute, or scholarly press
  • Commercial publishers or companies
References
  • Always have bibliographies and citations
  • Most have an extensive list of references
  • Typically lack references and bibliographies
  • If present, may be few in number
Review
  • Articles may be peer-reviewed or refereed
  • Articles are selected by an editor (not peer-reviewed)
Other
  • Tend to be plain in design, without advertisements
  • Issues tend to be successively numbered
  • Issues tend to be published less often (monthly, quarterly, semi-annually)
  • Tend to include color photos, advertisements, graphics, etc.
  • Each issue tends to begin with page 1
  • Issues tend to be published more frequently (monthly, weekly, daily)
Examples
  • Journal of Environmental Science
  • The Chaucer Review
  • Journal of Social Work
  • Newsweek
  • Harper's
  • New York Times