Skip to main content

English 200

Scholarly Journals or Magazines

Learning to Identify Scholarly Journals vs Popular Magazines

Popular vs scholarly

This guide will help you figure out the difference between Scholarly Journals and Magazines (usually Popular ones).  

Popular Magazines (NOT Scholarly)

Are ones that you buy at the store for the purpose of current news or entertainment.

Written by Journalists rather than by scholars.

Don't use for your papers.

Opinion Magazines (NOT Scholarly)

Are written from a particular point of view (religious, political, social, etc.)

Remember that all the articles will have a certain bias

Be sure you recognize this bias if you use it in a paper

Trade Magazines (NOT Scholarly)

Are written for people in a certain industry or occupation

Their purpose is to discuss certain trends and events and give statistics.

Contains ads, new product listings, and directory information

Scholarly Journals (Scholarly)

Are written in technical language by scholars in the field

Little or no advertising

Articles contains charts/graphs, endnote/footnotes, and references (bibliographies) citing the author's sources

If you have questions or need help, contact Common's Reference Desk in Helm (270 745-6125) or your subject specialist librarian. 

Check Out the Following Powerpoint for More Detail:

How to Identify a Scholarly Article from a Non-Scholarly Article

popular vs scholarly 2
It's doesn't seem as easy to tell if an article is scholarly or not when you can't compare the actual journal covers,  but it is. Scholarly articles read differently than an article in a popular magazine.  Look for the following:


Scholarly Articles are written by scholars for other scholars.  Look for them to:

  • Use an academic, very formal language
  • Have a scholarly, jargon-filled vocabulary
  • Have an Abstract, and often charts and graphs
  • Usually be original (often empirical) research
  • Have References at the End of the Article. 

Magazine (Popular) Articles are written by reporters for the general public.  Look for them to:

  • Have a very general vocabulary
  • Be written for anyone to understand
  • Be summations of other peoples research


Subject Guide

Jack Montgomery's picture
Jack Montgomery
Address: 304 Cravens Library, 1906 College Heights Blvd. #11067, Bowling Green, KY 42101

(270) 745-6156

Chat and FAQs