Popular and Scholarly Sources

Many of the assignments for your courses may ask you to use specific sources or types of sources such as popular magazine articles or scholarly or professional journal articles. There are some basic ways that you can identify these types of periodicals.

Type of Source Popular Magazines Trade Journals   Scholarly Journals
The Economist, Psychology Today, Time, National Geographic
Advertising Age, The CPA Journal, Billboard, American Libraries
Journal of the History of Ideas, College English, Antiquity, Science
For the general public; use language understood by the average reader
For those in a particular trade or industry
For students, scholars, researchers; uses specialized vocabulary of the discipline
May report research as news items,feature stories, editorials and opinion pieces
Reports on problems or issues in a particular industry
Reports original research, theory; may include an abstract
Highly visual, a lot of advertising, color, photos, short articles with no bibliographies or references
Visual, contains advertising, color, photos,
Little or no advertising, has tables & charts, high concentration of print, lengthy articles, bibliographies & references
Author may not be named, frequently a staff writer, not a subject expert
Staff writers, freelance authors
Authors are specialists, articles are signed, & credentials such as degrees, university affiliation are often given.