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Popular vs. Scholarly Periodicals and Articles: Popular v. Scholarly Articles

This guide will assist in making the distinction between 'popular' and 'scholarly' magazines, journals, and other periodicals.


Popular Articles (Magazines)

  • Are often written by journalists or professional writers for a general audience
  • Use language easily understood by general readers
  • Rarely give full citations for sources
  • Written for the general public
  • Tend to be shorter than journal articles


Scholarly Articles (Journals)

  • Are written by and for faculty, researchers or scholars (chemists, historians, doctors, artists, etc.)
  • Uses scholarly or technical language
  • Tend to be longer articles about research
  • Include full citations for sources 
  • Are often refereed or peer reviewed (articles are reviewed by an editor and other specialists before being accepted for publication)
  • Book reviews and editorials are not considered scholarly articles, even when found in scholarly journals

Popular v. Scholarly (video from Vanderbilt University)

PDF Illustrating Popular v. Scholarly Article

Here is an illustration of the differences between popular and scholarly articles, showing one of each type on the same topic (from Ohio University Libraries).

Subject Guide

Kristen Smith
ARC 220