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Module 3: Finding Articles

Scholarly Journals vs. Popular Magazines

For most research assignments, you will likely be required to find articles from scholarly journals. Scholarly journals are also called academic, peer-reviewed, or refereed. Several features of scholarly journals and popular-interest magazines and make it relatively easy to distinguish one from the other, once you know what to look for. The features listed below will help you answer the question "How Do I Know the Difference between a Scholarly Journal and a Popular Magazine?



People, Sports Illustrated, Time, Newsweek.

African Journal of Infectious Diseases, American Indian Quarterly, American Journal of Psychology.


Highly visible, glossy, eyecatching.

If any, ads are professional and related to the field.


Often NOT signed by author.

ALWAYS signed by the author(s).


General public.

Targeted audience of scholars or professionals.


Authors are generalists, staff writers, or freelance writers.

Authors are experts in their fields--scholars and professionals, often university professors.


Sources of information NOT fully cited, a bibliography is NOT included, NO footnotes or endnotes.

Sources are always fully cited, footnotes or endnotes are always given.


Informal, conversational style to appeal to general readers.

The standard format of the field is followed: APA, MLA, Chicago (Turabian), etc.


Published commercially.

Often published by a university or professional association.


To inform or entertain.

To keep scholars and professionals abreast of new research findings and techniques.

Review Policy

Articles selected by an editor.

"Peer reviewed:" articles selected by a panel of experts.


Common vernacular is used.

Specialized or technical language of the field is used.


Usually weekly or monthly.

Usually monthly or quarterly.


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