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Scholarly vs. Popular

How can you tell the difference between whether or not a periodical qualifies as scholarly or popular? Some examples and minimal guidelines... Popular magazines Articles are written for the general public, usually by staff reporters, or unnamed staff Articles lack original research or cited sources and provide broad coverage of...

How can you tell the difference between whether or not a periodical qualifies as scholarly or popular?  Some examples and minimal guidelines...

Popular magazines

Psychology Today Magazine  People Magazine  Time Magazine 

  • Articles are written for the general public, usually by staff reporters, or unnamed staff
  • Articles lack original research or cited sources and provide broad coverage of general topics
  • There are lots of photos, advertising, and other visual distractions
 

Trade Magazines

Chemical & Engineering News  Women's Wear Daily (WWD)   American Libraries

  • Articles are written for a specific audience - typically, members of a profession or industry
  • Articles lack original research or cited sources; they cover news and information about a profession's or industry's trends and current events
  • There are lots of photos, profession or industry-focused advertising, and other visual distractions

Scholarly Journals

Georgia Review  Child Development  Harvard Business Review 

  • Articles are written using professional terminology and academic style by scholars with relevant credentials
  • In-depth articles demonstrate a high level of research including a thorough list of cited sources
  • There are few photos, advertising, or other visual distractions, although there may be relevant graphs, charts, or tables

A note about PEER-REVIEW or REFEREED journals:  an important characteristic of scholarly journals is that they require submissions to undergo a rigorous review process prior to being accepted for publication.  Because they have undergone such critical assessment, articles in scholarly publications are more authoritative and credible sources for student research.



There are a few periodicals that defy easy categorization. For example, Science is a prominent scholarly journal although it contains news and opinion pieces.  Young Children contains many scholarly articles written by and for early elementary educators, yet it is full of pictures, news items, and ads.  The most important thing a student can do to determine if the source they are using is scholarly is to EVALUATE AT THE ARTICLE LEVEL


TIPS to help you determine if a periodical title is SCHOLARLY/REFEREED: 

1.  Many of the libraries databases allow you to limit your search to scholarly journals; some, such as Project Muse and JSTOR, limit their content to scholarly journals.

2.  Search for the periodical title's home page on the Internet (i.e. use Google, Yahoo!, etc. ...) -- ALTERNATIVELY, try looking up the title in the SERIALS DIRECTORY to locate the URL to the title's home page/publisher

Once you locate the periodical's home page, the "about" or "aims & scope" or "author [guidelines, instructions, etc.]" sections will indicate whether the journal is scholarly or not.

3.  Magazines for Libraries is a reference resource that identifies scholarly / non-scholarly periodicals by discipline. Call Number:  REF Z6941. M23 15th ed.


RECOMMENDED RESOURCES FOR FURTHER EXPLORATION:

Video tutorials: http://www.library.vanderbilt.edu/peabody/tutorials/scholarlyfree/
Evaluate scholarly content online [from UC Berkeley Doe & Moffitt Libraries]

                 
Websites:  http://www.lib.utah.edu/ResGuides/scholarly.html OR http://lib.utsa.edu/Research/Subject/scholarlyguide.html

Books: 

  • Booth, Wayne C., Gregory G. Colomb, and Joseph M. Williams. The Craft of Research. Chicago: U. of Chicago Press, 2003.  Call Number: Q180.55 .M4 B66 2003  -- *Ch. 5*
  • Raimes, Ann. Keys for Writers (5th Ed.). Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2008.  Call Number: Ref PE1408 .R16 2008 -- *Part 2 Ch. 8* 


For further assistance: ASK A LIBRARIAN


 

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