Differences between Popular and Scholarly Articles
This tutorial provides information on the differences between popular and scholarly journal articles.
Popular articles are generally brief, appear in magazines with advertisements and usually do not include references. They are often written from the personal point of view and the information may be based on the author’s experiences. This is also true of popular or “trade” books. If you use information from a popular article or book, make sure that you present it in that context. Look for substantiating evidence from more scholarly articles that back up the author’s point of view.
Scholarly articles appear in peer-reviewed journals. They are included in a journal because they have met some kind of selection criteria established by the publication’s editorial board.Scholarly books often have an editor and include chapters on specific aspects of a particular topic. The articles or books should include a list of references.
Most research articles/books will provide some biographical information on the author(s) or at least provide you with the person’s current affiliation. Try to locate information on the author to determine his/her authority/qualifications, reputation and point of view. Locate other articles that the person has written. You may want to be more skeptical about research contributed by someone who has only written one article ten years ago (although it could be that the article is a seminal work cited by many scholars). Use citation indexes to get more information on an author’s publication record and the number of times the work has been cited.