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Syracuse University Libraries

Research Process: Getting Started: B. Popular vs. Scholarly

A guide to assist students in conducting research using the wide variety of information sources available to them.

Introduction

Many instructors require the use of scholarly articles in research papers. Scholarly articles are found in peer-reviewed, or refereed, journals. Such journals have editorial boards of experts who accept or reject articles for publication. Therefore, the articles are considered high quality and represent important research in a given field.

Articles from popular magazines do not include the same level of research and are not reviewed in the same way. They often contain stories of interest to a wider audience.

In addition to popular and scholarly sources, you will find trade journals (practical information for professionals) and journals of opinion (information expressing a given viewpoint).

Comparing Periodical Sources

Authors Editors Audience Language Sources Advertising Examples
Journalists On staff General public Non-technical, brief

Quotes and facts often attributed in text; citations rare

Common, diverse New York Times, Globe & Mail, (Toronto, CA), Chicago Tribune
Authors Editors Audience Language Sources Advertising Examples
Journalists On staff General public Non-technical, consumer-focused

Quotes and facts often attributed in text; citations rare

Common, diverse Entertainment Weekly, Time, Good Housekeeping
Authors Editors Audience Language Sources Advertising Examples
Practitioners in field On staff General public Moderately technical vocabulary

Quotes and facts often attributed in text; citations rare

Selective, industry-focused

Brandweek, Restaurant Business, ArchitectAutomotive Industries

Authors Editors Audience Language Sources Advertising Examples
Scholars, researchers, experts in field Referees/ Peer Reviewers Scholars, researchers, experts in field Academic language and tone; technical vocabulary

Bibliographies and reference lists; footnotes and in-text citations

Rare, focused on related journals and conferences Journal of African American Studies, Journal of Neuroscience Methods, Active Learning in Higher Education