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Popular Vs Scholarly: Introduction

This guide explains what is popular and scholarly publications. Comparison and types of each.


Gathering information resources for research papers or projects includes not only books or book chapters, it also includes journal articles. To start working on a paper or project using journal articles you need to know how to evaluate journal articles. One way of evaluation is to determine whether it is scholarly or popular. Although popular sources may also contain well-considered articles, the purpose of distinguishing between popular and scholarly sources is to determine the degree of authority, depth of the research topic and the academic value. 


Scholarly publications:

They are also called; Academic, peer reviewed, or refereed journals. 

They contain articles that have undergone a review process by selected experts in the field before being accepted for publishing.

They are written and edited by professors and researchers.

They have plain covers.

Articles include specific sections such as: Abstract, literature review, methodology, findings, and conclusion.

Published monthly or quarterly.

Reading strategies:

Scholarly articles are great sources for your research projects. They are also dense and unfamiliar sources of information to many students. Fortunately, there are ways to navigate these sources to help reduce the intimidation and confusion that often arises when reading scholarly articles. The more you practice and read these types of articles, the easier it becomes to use scholarly articles effectively.

Here are some basic steps to navigating scholarly articles:

  1. Title - Scholarly article titles are usually descriptive and can help you decide if the content will be applicable to your topic.
  2. Abstract – The abstract functions like a summary of the article. It will provide an explanation of the article’s purpose, scope, and any research methods or results.
  3. Introduction - This section will go into detail about the main thesis, hypothesis, and importance of the research in the article.
  4. Headings – Review the section headings to help you decide which parts of the article you want to focus on reading.
  5. Results* – Find out the main findings of the author’s research.
  6. Conclusion – Before reading the entire article, it is helpful to know the results of the research or analysis to make reading easier.
  7. Read the Text – You can now review the full text of the article as a well-informed reader. Make notes, highlight, and look up any unfamiliar words or terminology.

Popular publications:

Are meant to entertain and give general information.

Usually bright, colorful and with lots of advertising.

Articles are short to medium length.

Authors are magazine staff members or free-lance writers.

No peer review process.

Published weekly or monthly.


*some articles may not have a results section because they focus on theory and critical analysis rather than data


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Walter Brian Hall
Systems Librarian
5017B Habshan Library
Sas Al Nakhl Campus
+971 (2) 312-3160
Subjects: History

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