Q. What's the difference between a scholarly and a popular article?

Answer

The table below represents typical attributes of popular and scholarly articles, although you may find exceptions. 

Popular

Scholarly / Academic            

Example covers

   

   

Author(s)

professional writers or journalists

researchers and experts in a field

Audience

general public

students, faculty, and other scholars

Reading level / language

easily understood by most adult readers

technical, discipline-specific; often difficult to understand by readers new or unfamiliar with the field

Topic focus

news and current events, popular culture, etc.

targeted research

Length

short, e.g. 1-5 pages

longer, e.g. 10-20 pages

Appearance

glossy pages with photos and full-color illustrations

graphics limited to tables, charts, and scientific illustrations

References

few to none

full list of citations for sources used

Review process prior to publishing

reviewed by editors

peer-reviewed (“refereed”) by other experts in the field

Note: Book reviews and editorials, regardless of source, are not usually considered scholarly.

  

If you find an article but aren't sure whether it scholarly (including peer reviewed) or popular, you can look it up in library database Ulrich’s Periodical Directory. Search by journal title (not by article) and look for the peer review/refereed icon: . Also look for “Journal” under Serial Type and “Academic / Scholarly” under Content Type. If you have any further questions regarding a specific source’s academic qualifications and whether it would be accepted for your assignment or research, you may want to check with the professor who will be reviewing your work.

 

The following video tutorial further explains key differences between these types of resources:

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  • Last Updated Jul 18, 2017
  • Views 28
  • Answered By Teal Smith

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