Scholarly vs. Popular Articles

Check with your instructor to determine if articles from non-scholarly publications are acceptable; oftentimes instructors restrict research to scholarly (or peer reviewed) sources.

  Scholarly Journals (or peer reviewed) Popular Magazines


  • Sociological Review
  • Economic Botany
  • Journal of Asian Studies
  • New England Journal of Medicine
  • PC World
  • Newsweek
  • Psychology Today
  • National Geographic

Content and

  • Lengthy, signed articles; usually contain an abstract summarizing the main points
  • Reports of original research
  • In-depth analysis of topics
  • Statistical information
  • Substantial book reviews
  • Refereed/peer reviewed to ensure quality standards of scholarship
  • Short articles, sometimes signed
  • Current events and news
  • Brief, factual information
  • Interviews
  • Some brief book reviews

Language and

  • College-level vocabulary
  • Specialized language of the discipline
  • Written for other academics and experts
  • Non-technical vocabulary
  • Written for general readers


  • Researchers, academics, scholars
  • Look for credentials, e.g., Ph.D. or affiliation with a university
  • Journalists


  • Footnotes and bibliographies
  • Extensive documentation
  • Few footnotes
  • Frequently no bibliography


  • Professional organizations, universities, research institutes, and scholarly presses
  • Commercial/trade publisher


  • Graphs, charts, and tables
  • Ads are very rare
  • Many graphics and photos
  • Abundant advertising; full-page color ads