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Research Guides

Interesting Facts

How many authors can there be?  Librarian Cory Craig, UC Davis reports on an article in Physics Review letters which has 5,154 authors! Phys. Rev. Lett. 114, 191803 (2015). The authors list alone takes up 15 pages while the article and references only take up 9.

Popular

Popular publications about the sciences are a diverse group, ranging from  serious and well-researched articles in respected popular science magazines, to wild claims made by tabloids.  The article "Fighting Cancer with Nanomedicine" (linked here), is a popular article about a scholarly subject.  It was written to inform a general audience about advances in nanomedicine.  It's not peer-reviewed, but it contains references to several recent scholarly publications.  The article "Pill to Beat Alzheimer's" (linked here) is also ostensibly about a scholarly subject, but the writing is so far removed from the research it is reporting on that it is highly unlikely to contain any actual scientific information.

How to spot a popular publication:

  • Written for a public audience
  • Often written by a journalist, as opposed to a scholar, researcher, or other expert
  • Simplistic title
  • Accessible language
  • Will often include eye-catching images
  • Not peer-reviewed
  • Does not include a formal bibliography, although it may cite sources

Scholarly

Scholarly publications are much different.  Before they can be published, they must jump through a series of hoops that test the paper's claims and make sure it's properly researched and written.  The scholarly article "Closed loop control of cellular functions using combinatory drugs guided by a stochastic search algorithm" (linked here) was cited by The Scientist in the article "Fighting Cancer with Nanomedicine."  The scholarly article "Intravenous immunoglobin for Alzheimer's disease" (linked here) was not cited by the hyperbolic Daily Express article, but I was able to find it using key words.

How to spot a scholarly publication:

  • Written for scholars and professionals in a specific field
  • Language is technical
  • Published in a scholarly journal
  • Authors are experts in their field
  • Peer-reviewed
  • In-text citations and a bibliography in subject-appropriate citation style