Skip to Main Content

*Research 101

Popular vs. Scholarly Articles

Library databases contain many different periodicals, including newspapers, magazine articles, and journal articles. How can you tell if you have a found a more popular magazine article or a scholarly article? Many professors prefer (and may require) that you use scholarly articles in your research assignments.

Psychology TodayJournal of Applied Psychology

Comparing Articles

  Popular Magazines Scholarly Journals
Audience General readers Scholars, researchers, professors, students
Purpose To inform, entertain, and update reader To broaden existing knowledge of a subject and report on original research
Advertisements Many ads of a wide variety Few ads, usually specific to the field
Authors Staff writers or free lance. Articles may be unsigned Scholars/experts, credentials are usually given
Publisher Commercial publishers University presses, professional associations, some commercial publishers
Publication Schedule Usually weekly or monthly Publishes less often, commonly monthly or quarterly
Language Easy to read Technical jargon, often difficult to read
Focus Broad subjects. Gives introductory information, general, opinions Narrow treatment. Articles are research based and specialized
Appearance More appealing, often glossy and containing many pictures Less appealing. Contents are mostly text
Article Length Usually short to medium Usually lengthy, with small print size
Documentation Very little Extensive bibliographies and footnotes
Timeliness Up-to-date Timeliness not as important as thoroughness, originality, and in-depth coverage
Words in the Titles No specific words in title. Titles may be cutesy or contain slang Often contain the words Journal, Bulletin, Review, Research
Examples Time, Newsweek, Psychology Today, Popular Science, New Yorker, Ebony, Forbes, Gourmet, Rolling Stone American Journal of Nursing, Journal of Applied Psychology, Science, Journal of Popular Culture, Journal of Black Studies, Harvard Business Review