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English 105 - College Writing: Popular vs. Scholarly Sources

Popular vs. Scholarly Sources

Journals, magazines and newspapers are usually separated into three major types: scholarly, popular and trade/professional. Many websites also have these characteristics.  

Here are some ways to tell the difference.

Major Differences Scholarly Sources Popular Sources Trade/Professional Sources
Intended Audience Intended for individuals in a specific field of study. Readers are assumed to have some knowledge in the field.  Intended for a general audience. Some are for a specific group, such as runners or teens.  Intended for individuals in a specific profession, business or occupation.
Contents Articles report research and case studies or critical analysis of a work (novel, painting, etc.) Articles are intended to entertain and/or provide general information. Articles provide current professional information and industry news; may contain job listings.
Appearance Layout is usually just text, few photos, lengthy articles. Usually have photos and advertising; fairly short articles. Contain product advertisements of interest to individuals in the specific professions; some pictures; usually short articles.
Authors Articles are written by scholars, academics or researchers in a particular field. Articles are written by staff writers (sometimes a specific author is not named) or with no specific credentials in a particular field.  Articles are written by staff writers and reporters hired by the publication, usually with knowledge of the profession or field.
Article Acceptance Procedure Articles are peer-reviewed (an editorial board reviews each article for accuracy and quality). Articles are not peer-reviewed. Articles are reviewed and selected by magazine or newspaper editors. Articles are reviewed and selected by magazine or newspaper editors.
Documentation Articles contain extensive footnotes and bibliographies of reference sources. For news articles, sources are sometimes listed.   For news articles, sources are sometimes listed.
Examples American Sociological Review, Foreign Language Annals, Journal of British Studies Time, Good Housekeeping, Runners World, Atlantic Monthly, Virginian-Pilot, U.S. News and World Report, New Yorker Teacher Magazine; Architectural Review; Coach and Athletic Director
Sample Citations From a scholarly source: Kettrey, Heather and Beth Emery. "The Discourse of Sibling Violence." Journal of Family Violence 21.6 (2006): 407-416Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web 5 Oct 2010. From a popular source: Catsoulis, Jeannette. "Siblings in Mexico City, Criminally Exploited." New York TimesI (2010): 7.Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 5 Oct 2010. From a trade source: "Top Bluegrass Albums."Billboard 122.36 (2010): 41. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 5 Oct 2010.