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Scholarly Journals versus Popular Magazines Guide: Telling the difference

How to tell the difference

Scholarly Journals vs. Popular Magazines

Scholarly journal articles, also known as peer-reviewed or academic articles, are articles in which researchers report their research findings, critical analyses, and new ideas. These articles have been evaluated and critiqued by other researchers and experts in the same field before they are published.

Popular magazines and newspapers contain articles written for the general public about current events and topics of popular interest. The rapid publishing process of magazines and newspapers allows their articles to contain very recent information. For some assignments, magazine and newspaper articles may not be appropriate sources to cite – make sure to check with your instructor.

Characteristics of Scholarly and Popular Magazines
Characteristics Scholarly Popular
Purpose Reports research results Provides general information, news, entertainment
Audience Researchers, professionals, and/or specialists in the field General Public
Author Specialist in the field; name, credentials, and affiliations are provided Journalist or staff writer, sometimes anonymous; usually no credentials are given
Language Scholarly or technical terms used Easy to understand, little or no specialized terms used
Length Usually 10 or more pages, provides in-depth analysis A few paragraphs to a few pages long
Structure May include distinct sections, such as abstract, methodology, results, conclusion, bibliography No specific format or structure
References Bibliography (works cited list) at the end and/or footnotes to document research Generally no bibliography; may list sources that were mentioned in the article
Images May contain charts, tables, maps, diagrams, or photographs that support the text Large, glossy images meant to attract attention or advertise