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English 110, 120, 122 Communication Skills: Writing: Scholarly vs. Popular Articles

Scholarly Journals vs. Popular Magazines

When conducting research, scholars often rely on articles from scholarly journals rather than popular magazines. The table below lists major differences that exist between these two types of resources.

Scholarly Vs. Popular Journals

Criteria Scholarly/Peer-Reviewed Journals Popular Magazine What if it’s the electronic version?
Overall appearance Sober and serious. Few illustrations. Many charts, graphs and equations. Flashy and glossy. Many illustrations. Fewer charts and graphs. No equations. You won’t see the cover and may not see images and/or charts.
Advertising Few, if any, ads. Most ads will be for books, other journals, and academic conferences. Many slick ads for consumer products. Ads typically won’t be available.
Audience Other scholars and students. Uses scholarly terminology and jargon. General public. Language is accessible to most readers. Apparent in e-version.
Authors Experts in the field. Authors’ affiliations, and contact information are listed Reporters and freelance writers. Names and affiliations may not be listed. If available, affiliations are typically listed in the e-version.
Article length Generally longer. Generally shorter. Apparent in e-version.
Article structure Often very structured with abstracts, methodology and conclusions. Comparatively unstructured. Apparent in e-version.
References Includes extensive footnotes and/or bibliography. Rarely includes footnotes or bibliography. Apparent in e-version.
Article acceptance and editing Uses a “peer review” or “referee” process, in which articles are reviewed by other experts in the field. (Check for an “Instructions for Authors” section.) Articles are reviewed by editors before publication. Some databases allow you to limit your search to “peer reviewed” or “refereed” journals.


Adapted from California State University San Marcos

How do I find articles from scholarly journals?

Some databases allow you to limit your search to scholarly, “peer reviewed” or “refereed” journals. Look for the scholarly or peer-reviewed limiter checkbox in library databases like EBSCO and ProQuest.