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Scholarly vs. Popular: Evaluating Articles

Peer-reviewed vs Scholarly Articles

Peer Reviewed
A publication in which articles go through an official editorial process that involves review and approval by the author's peers (people who are experts in the same subject area). Most (but not all) scholarly publications are peer reviewed. Some trade publications are peer reviewed.

Scholarly Journal
A scholarly journal is a publication that is authored by academics for a target audience that is mainly academic. The scholarly journal printed format isn't usually a glossy magazine, and it is published by a recognized society with academic goals and missions. Accepted criteria states the publication must be academic in focus with the intent to report on or support research needs as well as advance one's knowledge on a topic or theory. The publication will be targeted for professional or academic researchers and have in-depth analysis typically focusing on one discipline or academic field. The publication will likely be peer reviewed or refereed by external reviewers. The publisher should be a professional association or an academic press.

What's Scholarly?

Scholarly Articles (aka Peer Reviewed/Refereed)

  • author: scholars (professors and other academics/experts)
  • audience: other scholars 
  • where to find them: academic journals (ex. Journal of Human Relations) in library databases 
  • most important feature: undergo a process known as "peer review" in which the article is reviewed and revised before being published, ensuring greater quality of the information being presented

Trade/Industry Articles 

  • author: practitioners in that field 
  • audience: other practitioners 
  • where to find find them: trade magazines/journals in library databases 

Popular Articles

  • author: journalists
  • audience: general public
  • where to find them: newspapers, magazines, news sites  

Evaluating Scholarly, Trade and Popluar Sources