Skip to Main Content
× Starting summer 2024, we will be focusing on improving our research guides for a better seamless user experience. During this time, you may notice website and structural updates to all existing pages. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us.

ARH 140: Introduction to Global Art: Scholarly vs. Popular

Article Examples

These articles are about very simillar topics and from the same year, but their formats are quite different. Can you guess which one is peer-reviewed and which one is a popular source? What makes them so different and which is the more trusted and reliable source?

Scholarly, Trade, and Popular Sources

Periodical is a term used to describe any publication that is published multiple times (periodically). Periodicals include materials such as popular magazines, trade publications, serials, scholarly journals, and newspapers.

It is important to understand the difference between a popular and a scholarly periodical. When you are doing research for an assignment, it is important to understand what your instructors expectations are. Some require all or most sources to be scholarly, others require a mixture of schlarly trade, and popular. Often this can vary according to the discipline. the importantthing to remember is that you need to understand the difference between your sources so that you can make the decision about what to include and what to dismiss.

Often, popular periodicals are called magazines and scholarly periodicals are called journals. Many times it will be acceptable to use some popular material, but research papers should not be based solely on popular literature.

Finally, all the criteria and examples given below are guidlines. While most popular, trade, and scholarly publicatiosn conform to these criteria you will find examples that do not. If in doubt, consult a librarian or your professor.

Criteria Popular Magazine Trade (or industry) Journal Scholarly and Peer-Reviewed Journal

Content Secondary discussion of someone else's research; may include personal narrative or opinion; general information, purpose is to entertain or inform. Current news, trends and products in a specific industry; practical information for professionals working in the field or industry. In-depth, primary account of original findings written by the researcher(s) or reviews of original research; very specific information, with the goal of scholarly communication.
Author Author is frequently a journalist paid to write articles, may or may not have subject expertise. Author is usually a professional in the field, sometimes a journalist with subject expertise. Author's credentials are provided; usually a scholar or specialist with subject expertise.
Audience General public; the interested non-specialist. Professionals in the field; the interested non-specialist. Scholars, researchers, and students.
Language Vocabulary in general usage; easily understandable to most readers. Specialized terminology or jargon of the field, but not as technical as a scholarly journal. Specialized terminology or jargon of the field; requires expertise in subject area.
Layout & Organization Informal; may include non-standard formatting. May not present supporting evidence or a conclusion. Informal; articles organized like a journal or a newsletter. Evidence drawn from personal experience or common knowledge. Structured; includes the article abstract, goals and objectives, methodology, results (evidence), discussion, conclusion, and bibliography.
Accountability Articles are evaluated by editorial staff, not experts in the field; edited for format and style. Articles are evaluated by editorial staff who may be experts in the field, not peer-reviewed*; edited for format and style. Articles are evaluated by peer-reviewers* or referees who are experts in the field; edited for content, format, and style.
References Rare. Little, if any, information about source materials is given. Occasional brief bibliographies, but not required. Required. Quotes and facts are verifiable.
Paging Each issue begins with page 1. Each issue generally begins with page 1. Page numbers are generally consecutive throughout the volume.


Edited from a copy edited by Eastern Kentucky University, which in turn was created using the Scholarly, Popular and Trade Journals Guide by the Georgia State Univeristy Library and the  Scholarly vs. Popular Materials by Amy VanScoy, NCSU Library