Answered By: Michael Pujals
Last Updated: Jul 16, 2014     Views: 22

Periodicals: Scholarly vs. Popular



Scholarly, peer-reviewed articles (also called “refereed”) are required for academic research. Scholars and researchers publish their findings almost exclusively in scholarly and academic periodicals (also called journals). Before being accepted for publication, these articles must be evaluated by experts in the field by a process called “peer-review.” This process insures the information is:


·         Accurate

·         Authoritative

·         Original

·         Expands the understanding of the subject or area of study


Popular magazines may provide articles that address similar subjects as the scholarly journals, but these articles have not been evaluated by experts in the field, therefore, are not peer-reviewed, and are written for the general public. The intentions of popular periodicals are to sensationalize a topic, entertain, sell a product, or promote a viewpoint.


Scholarly Peer-Reviewed articles:

Popular Magazine articles:


Plain, sober, or serious in appearance

Often provide an abstract, or descriptive summary

Always cite their sources in a bibliography

Written by scholars or researchers, for scholars and   


The author’s affiliations (university, research
     institution, professional organization) are always

Written in specialized or scientific terms- jargon
     specific to the discipline

Few advertisements

May be published by a university or academic

Report on original research or experimentation



American Economic Review

Annual Review of Psychology

JAMA: Journal of the American Medical Association

Journal of Theoretical Biology

Literary Ethics

Modern American Literature

Theory, Culture & Society


Glossy, slick, or eye-catching in appearance

Do not provide an abstract

News and general interest periodicals sometimes cite
     sources, though more often they do not

Written by a journalist for the general public or people

     in a particular field (trade magazines)

Written in layman or general language

Published by commercial companies, although some  
     by professional organizations

Many advertisements

Provide entertainment or information to a broad

May be written in a more “sensational” style,
     intending to arouse strong interest or reaction.



Psychology Today

National Geographic


Reader’s Digest

Scientific American


The Economist


Compiled from Cornell University Library


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