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What is a scholarly article? How can I tell if an article is scholarly or popular?


Often, for research in a university, you will be asked to find scholarly articles. Our LibGuides have an explanation of the difference between scholarly and popular articles.

Excerpted from the Communication Studies LibGuide: 

  • Popular:  Inform and entertain the general public. Magazines like Time or Rolling Stone; or newspapers like the L.A. Times.
  • Scholarly:  Disseminate research and academic discussion among professionals in a discipline.  Journals such as Journal of Applied Communication Research.  Usually peer reviewed or refereed.
  • Trade:  Neither scholarly or popular sources, but could be a combination of both.  Allows practitioners in specific industries to share market and production information that improves their businesses.

Many databases include an option to limit your search to "scholarly journals" or "peer-reviewed" articles by clicking on a checkbox. These can be helpful to narrow your search, but remember to look critically at your results (using information from the LibGuide link above) to make sure the articles meet the criteria your professor is looking for. 

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