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Q. What is the difference between a scholarly and popular article?

What are "peer-reviewed," "academic," or "scholarly" journals?

Answered By: Beth Juhl
Last Updated: Aug 12, 2020     Views: 36

Scholarly (sometimes called peer-reviewed) journals differ from popular magazines in several ways.  This guide to identifying characteristics should help you understand the differences:


Characteristic Scholarly Popular
Examples Arkansas Historical Quarterly Edible OzarkArkansas Magazine
Purpose Usually for a specific field Current, general interest
Audience Researchers or those of advanced reading level General audience
Author Professional, specialist, expert. Credentials provided. Journalist, popular author, staff writer.
Length Longer articles. In-depth studies Shorter articles; overview of topics
Reviewed Reviewed (refereed) by scholars, experts, or peers in field Evaluated by staff editors
Illustrations Charts, graphs, some specialized photographs Numerous glossy and color photographs
Advertising Minimal advertising; occasionally some for field-specific products. Lots of advertising for a wide array of products
Language Specialized vocabulary Non-technical vocabulary; easier to understand


Remember that even a scholarly journal can have editorial, opinion, or news items that would not be considered "peer-reviewed."

Need further help in identifying scholarly and popular articles?

  • Some databases, such as QuickSearch, Ebsco, or ProQuest, allow you to limit your search to scholarly or peer-reviewed articles.
  • UlrichsWeb Periodicals Directory will tell you whether or not a journal is refereed. Look for the Referee's jersey symbol.

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