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Research Process  

This guide focuses on the skills and resources needed to complete a research project.
Last Updated: Sep 4, 2014 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

Scholarly vs. Popular Print Page

How do I know?

Use the following criteria to determine whether an article comes from a scholarly journal or a popular magazine:

  • Accountability
  • Audience
  • Author
  • Content
  • Graphics
  • Language
  • Layout & Organization
  • References.

Types of Publications

There are several different types of publications so you must learn to differentiate scholarly articles from the rest. Here is a quick guide:

Scholarly: This type of publication is meant to inform and report original research or experimentation to the rest of the scholarly world. They generally have substantial bibliographies and foot notes, contain technical terminology and have many graphs and charts to support the research.
Trade: This type of publication is meant to provide news and information to those in a particular profession or industry. They are written by the practitioners or educators within the industry. Unlike scholarly journals, trade magazines will have extensive advertising aimed at people within the field.
News or Opinion: This type of publication is meant to provide general information to an educated lay audience. They do not use technical language and do not emphasize a speciality. They include extensive advertising aimed at the general public. 
Popular: This type of publication is meant to entertain or persuade. Their agenda is to sell products or services. They use simple language to meet a minimum education level and include extensive advertising aimed at the general public. 

The Peer-Review Process

Here is a short video explaining the peer-review process.


Scholarly vs. Magazines


Scholarly Journal

Popular Magazine



Peer-reviewed (also called refereed) journals refer only to those scholarly journals that submit articles to several other scholars, experts, or academics (peers) in the field for review and comment.

Reviewers verify the article's information as well as the validity of the article's argument and must agree that the article represents properly conducted original research or writing before it can be published.

Articles are evaluated by editorial staff, not experts in the field.

Edited for format and style.


The scholarly researcher, faculty and students.

The general public and the interested non-specialist.


Articles are written by experts in the field.

Include author credentials.

Affiliations of authors are listed, usually at the bottom of the first page or at the end of the article.

Article may be written by a member of the editorial staff or a free lance writer.

Author is frequently a journalist paid to write articles; may or may not have subject expertise.


Articles contain an abstract (descriptive summary of the article contents) before the main text of the article.

Often report original research and reviews while expanding on existing theories.

Offer critiques on previously published materials.

Articles are typically a secondary discussion of someone else's research; may include personal narrative or opinion.

Cover news, current events, hobbies or special interests.


Illustrations are few and support the text, typically in the form of charts, graphs and maps.

Few or no advertisements.

Publications are slick and attractive in appearance with color graphics.

Contain lots of glossy advertisements and photographs.


Specialized terminology or jargon of the field.

Assume that the reader is familiar with the subject.

Articles are usually very short and written in simple language.

Vocabulary is general and easily understandable to most readers.

Language is geared for any educated audience, and does not assume familiarity with the subject matter.

Layout & Organization

Very structured.

Includes the article abstract, goals and objectives, methodology, results (evidence), discussion, conclusion, and bibliography.

Page numbers are consecutive throughout the volume.

Example: Issue 1 will end on page 455; Issue 2 will begin on page 456.

Very informal.

May include non-standard formatting.

May not present supporting evidence or a conclusion.


Quotes and facts are verifiable.

Sources are always cited in the form of footnotes or bibliographies.

Bibliographies are generally lengthy and cite other scholarly writings.

Sources are sometimes cited, but do not usually include footnotes or a bibliography

Information is often second or third hand and the original source is rarely mentioned.

Borrowed from University of Indiana: 


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