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STEM: Scholarly vs. Popular

What is the difference between scholarly and popular sources?

Scholarly Journals

Here's an example of a scholarly journal and some of its characteristics.


Example of a scholarly journal cover: The Historian 

  1. Author - credentials, experts in their field, often associated with a university
  2. Wording - very formal & difficult, written for experts in the field
  3. Format - an abstract at the beginning and a bibliography at the end
  4. Content - original research, formal criticism, case studies, etc.
  5. Length - tendency to be longer in all disciplines except science
  6. Photographs - graphs and charts only, no glossy photos or advertisements
  7. Published - quarterly (4x per year) or monthly

Here's an example of a popular magazine and some of its characteristics.

Example of a popular journal cover: Vibe 

  1. Author - journalists, industry insiders
  2. Wording - easy for everyone to understand
  3. Format - usually no works cited
  4. Content - wide range of topics, current issues and research summaries
  5. Length - shorter
  6. Photographs - lots of glossy photos & advertisements
  7. Published - daily, weekly or monthly

Scholarly/Academic Journals (infographic)

Quick Links

How to Read a Scholarly Article

What is Peer Review?

Quick tutorial from North Carolina State University


adjective \ˈkre-də-bəl\

: able to be believed : reasonable to trust or believe

: good enough to be effective


adjective \-lē\

: concerned with or relating to formal study or research

: having the characteristics of a scholar

peer review


: a process by which a scholarly work (such as a paper or a research proposal) is checked by a group of experts in the same field to make sure it meets the necessary standards before it is published or accepted

Definitions from Merriam-Webster online dictionary