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Research Process: A Step-by-Step Approach: 2b - Find Information Sources: Popular vs. Scholarly

Guide to help students familiarize themselves with the research process and useful library tools.

Popular vs. Scholarly Resources


Identifying Popular Articles

Overview Newspaper/Magazine Articles:

  • Heavily illustrated with lots of color
  • Has advertisements
  • Visual cover layouts
  • Short titles
  • Attention grabbing headlines

Article Overview:

  • Main purpose of articles is to get readers to purchase the magazine
  • Short in length
  • Authors are staff writers with the magazine, rarely specialists on topics
  • Language easy-to-read, little technical jargon
  • No review process other than editorial review
  • No guarantee the information is accurate, unbiased, or appropriate and may be difficult to verify
  • Intended for general audience or specific, targeted non-professional groups

Identifying Scholarly Articles

Journal Overview

  • Title clearly identifies subject matter and often includes the word "journal"
  • Cover layout typically the same from issue to issue
  • Few advertisements or images
  • Pages are typically not glossy with little color
  • No headlines

Article Overview:

  • Typically lenghty (over 5 pages)
  • Covers specific, narrow topics using technical terms and academic language
  • Not intended for general public
  • Title clearly identifies subject matter and an abstract provides overview of article content
  • Includes in-text citation and lists references at the end
  • Features little or no color, images support research purposes
  • Written by authorities in topic area or field of study (credentials often listed)
  • Main purpose is to report original, current research data to individuals in the scholarly and professional arenas (researchers, academics and students).
  • Refereed/peer reviewed by experts in the field