Scholarly vs Popular

Government Documents Librarian

Rita Wilson's picture
Rita Wilson
Contact:
UTSA Libraries -- Main Campus
One UTSA Circle
San Antonio, Texas 78249
210-458-7572

Is it a Peer-Reviewed Journal?

Look for a referee’s jersey icon () next to the journal’s title on the search results screen.  

What is a scholarly article?

An important part of any research project is evaluating your resources and knowing the difference among articles published in Scholarly, Popular and Trade Publications. Many of your professors will require that you use scholarly, peer reviewed sources. 

Scholarly journals -  contain in-depth articles on original research written by experts in a particular field for scholars and researchers. Articles contain specialized vocabulary, extensive citations, graphs, charts & tables, and are usually peer-reviewed by experts in the field. 

Popular magazines - contain articles and are typically written by a staff writer or journalist for a general audience. The magazine includes many photos and ads. Reference to sources are uncommon.

Trade publications - contain articles on current news and trends for a specific industry or profession and are written by authors with knowledge in the field for practitioners. Articles report general news, trends, and opinions, rather than advanced research, and are not peer-reviewed.

Properties of Scholarly, Popular and Trade Journals

 

Scholarly / Academic Journals
(including Peer Reviewed)

Popular

Trade Publications

                                
Examples

American Anthropologist
Journal of Popular Culture

Time
National Geographic
Popular Mechanics
Psychology Today

Public Management
Advertising Age
InfoSecurity Professional

Content

Research results/reports
Reviews of research
Book reviews 

Current events
General interest

Articles on a certain business or industry.
News, trends, promotional materials. 

Purpose

Share original research or
scholarship 
with the
academic community

Entertainment
Current events
Popular Culture

Inform about:
Business or industry news, trends, or products. 

Audience

Scholars, researchers, students

General public
Nonprofessionals

Business/industry professionals and practitioners

Authorship

Expert or specialist in the field.
Name and credentials always provided.

Staff writers, journalists, freelancers.
Credentials often not provided.

Staff writers, business/industry professionals.

Review Policy

Peer reviewed (refereed)
Reviewed and critically evaluated by experts in the field. 

Staff editor.

Business/industry professionals and practitioners.

Cites Sources
Research thoroughly documented by:
Bibliographies / Works cited
Footnotes
References
Endnotes 

None. May refer to other studies.

Few, if any.

Format/Structure

Structured articles typically contain: 
Abstract / Summary
Literature Review
Methodology
Results
Discussion
Conclusion
Bibliography

No specific format.
 

No specific format.
 

Pagination

Page numbers consecutive through all issues in a single volume. Individual issues begin with Page 1. Each issue generally begins with Page 1.
Special Features

Illustrations that support text
Statistical tables, graphs, maps
Longer articles
Few ads, usually for scholarly products or books.

Glossy photos & illustrations.
Many ads for variety of products.

Ads geared toward specific industry.