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Global Honors: Popular v. Scholarly

How to tell if a journal is Popular or Scholarly

Peer reviewed (or refereed) articles have been read and evaluated by experts in the field prior to publication.

  • Data collection methods, result analyses and conculsions are evaluated to determine the quality of the research.
  • Reviewers consider if the research adds to the body of knowledge in a particular field of inquiry.
  • Reviewers need not agree with the opinions of the author.

Because an article is scholarly (written and published primarily for a scholarly audience) DOES NOT necessarily mean that it is peer reviewed.  The table below explains the differences between what a "popular" and "scholarly" source.

Popular vs. Scholarly


Popular Magazines

Scholarly Journals

  • PC Magazine
  • Art in America
  • The Economist
  • International Journal of Human Computer Interaction
  • Journal of Latin American Studies
  • Cultural Studies
  • Urban Education
  • The general public
  • Scholars, professionals and students
Articles Written by
  • Non-specialists: paid journalists/reporters
  • Specialists: unpaid scholars and professionals
Editorial Authority
  • Articles are reviewed in-house
  • Articles are reviewed by editorial board of experts in that field; can also be peer-reviewed
  • How can I can tell if a scholarly journal article is peer-reviewed?
  • Superficial treatment
  • News
  • Little use of jargon
  • No bibliographies or references
  • In-depth research
  • Use of jargon
  • Provides bibliographies and references
  • Short articles frequently broken up by text boxes or non-continuous pagination
  • Graphics include glossy photographs
  • Colorful
  • Advertisements target the general public
  • Dense text, broken up by headings and an abstract
  • Graphics include charts, graphs, tables, etc.
  • Advertisements target specialists and are infrequent
Published by
  • Commercial publisher
  • Learned society or professional association
Publication  Frequency
  • Daily, weekly or monthly
  • Monthly, quarterly, or less frequently
Good for
  • Broad overview
  • Popular perspective
  • Usually used as a secondary source
  • Narrowly focused perspective
  • Current scholarly research
  • Historical scholarly perspective
  • Primary source for lab or field research.  Secondary sources for review articles.