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Writing 10 (Fenstermaker): Scholarly vs. Popular

College Reading & Composition - music focus

Scholarly vs. Popular

  • Scholarly articles are often the best sources for university-level research.
  • Scholarly articles (published in scholarly journals) are reviewed by experts before they are published.
  • Popular articles (published in newspapers, magazines, and other sources) are not reviewed by experts, but may be extensively researched and / or fact-checked, depending on the publication.

Scholarly

Academic Sources

Definition: Sources written or edited by scholars within specific conventions; tend to write about original research

Journals > peer reviewed, refereed

Books > author credentials, publisher information, well-documented

* Note: An editorial in a peer reviewed journal is part of an academic journal but it not reviewed by peers prior to publication.  It is an academic source yet not a peer reviewed source.

Popular

Popular Sources

Definition: A range of sources that do not qualify as scholarly; may or may not include analysis

These sources can range from magazine articles to sensational tabloids to blogs and websites.  Many popular sources are still credible.  These sources may or may not be written experts and do not go through a process like peer review.  However, many magazine and newspaper publishers still employ editors and fact-checkers before publishing materials.  Yet, other information sources readily available to you may not have gone through any level of review.

What to Look for in a Scholarly Article

Scholarly vs. Popular Periodicals

Vanderbilt University, Peabody Library, 3:12

Peer Review in 3 Minutes

North Carolina State University (NCSU) Libraries, 3:15

  1. What do peer reviewers do?  How are they similar to or different from editors?
  2. Who are the primary customers of scholarly journals?
  3. Do databases only include peer-reviewed articles?  How do you know?