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Researching: Popular and Scholarly

Popular Magazines are...

Written by paid journalists, staff writers, freelance writers. An article usually has just one author.
Written for the general public. Often written to entertain as well as to inform.
Sources may be mentioned, but not formally cited.
Glossy cover, short articles, colorful images.
Subscriptions are inexpensive.


Scholarly Journals are...

Written by unpaid specialists in the field, including professors and other researchers. An article often has several authors.
Written in specialized and technical language for academics and other specialists in the field to report research and analysis.
Usually peer reviewed (read and evaluated by specialists in the field).
Sources are formally cited in footnotes and bibliographies.
Long articles include an abstract and conclusion; may include charts, graphs, or tables.
Subscriptions are expensive.


image of journal covers

Psychological Science, from the Association for Psychological Science. For more information about the journal, go to the journal description.

Art Therapy: Journal of the American Art Therapy Association, from the American Art Therapy Association. For more information about the journal, go to the journal Aims and Scope page.

Journal of Marketing Research, from the American Marketing Association. For more information about the journal, go to the about this journal page.

Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, published by Elsevier. For more information about the journal, go to the about the journal page.

Popular Magazine Article, example (characteristics of...)


Withgott, J. (2003). Refugee species are feeling the heat of global warming. New Scientist, 1774.

One author and affiliation is not listed.


Writing style is relatively informal.


Sources are not formally cited at the end of the article.



Scholarly Journal Article, example (characteristics of...)


Cordellier, M., Pfenninger, A., Streit, B., & Pfenninger, M. (2012). Assessing the effects of climate change on the distribution of pulmonate freshwater snail biodiversity. Marine Biology, 159(11), 2519-2531.

Authors with affiliation.


Writing uses discipline specific jargon. Note the in-text citations.


Sources are listed at the end of the article.


more about Popular Magazines compared to Scholarly Journals (and info about Peer Review)


Examples from NC State University

What is peer review? backgrounder on Peer Review from Elsevier ScienceDirect

The Peer Review Process video from Elsevier Journals

Peer Review Process Video image



The Peer Review Process (pdf) Infographic


Peer Review Process image


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