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English 122

Popular vs. Scholarly

Video produced by Wayne State University Libraries.

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, scholarly journals, and newspapers.

It is important to understand the difference between a popular and a scholarly periodical. When you are doing research, most of your sources should be scholarly.

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.

 

Criteria Popular Magazine Trade Journal Scholarly Journal
Example
 

Content Secondary discussion of someone else's research; may include personal narrative or opiniongeneralinformation, purpose is to entertain or inform. Current news,trends and products in a specific industry; practical informationfor professionalsworking in the field or industry. In-depth, primary account of original findings written by the researcher(s); veryspecific 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.
Graphics Graphs, charts and tables; lots of glossy advertisements and photographs. Photographs; some graphics and charts;advertisements targeted to professionals in the field. Graphs, charts, and tables; very few advertisements and photographs.
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.

 

Courtesy of Lili Kang at Gate Way Community College Library. Based on Scholarly vs. Popular Materials by Amy VanScoy, NCSU Library,

and Scholarly, Popular and Trade Journals by Jason Puckett & Lyn Thaxton at GSU.

Database Search Strategies

Always think about different  ways to say the same thing.  Start with keywords to describe your topic; within results, look at the abstract and subject headings to identify additional keywords to use.

Search Strategies: 
Connectors - or/and do not have to be capitalized.
Start with keywords (place phrases in quotes), use connectors (or / and) and look for the subject headings specific to each database.

 Once you find a few relevant articles, look at the subject headings and revise the search if necessary by limiting to subjects and/or incorporating the subject words into the search.

place phrases in quotes use * for truncation
"political participation" role* = role or roles
"mass media" feminis* = feminism or feminist
"gender role" female* = female or females
"gender identity" sex* = sex or sexism or sexual or sexist
"feminist theory" ethnic* = ethnic or ethnicity
"abortion rights" right* = right or rights
ethnograph* = ethnography or ethnographic

  

use - or - to connect synonyms:  use - and - to connect concepts: 
("gender role*" or "gender identity") abortion and (law or legislation)
law or legislation immigration and education and women
policies or policy globalization and china and women

 

  

put it all together:
media and women and (muslim or islam*)
women and "social conditions" and "united states"
 

Vodka Ad Test

The Vodka Ad Test

Or a Quick Guide to Evaluating Periodical Articles

 

Flip your magazine or journal over. What kind of ad is on the back cover? If there is a vodka ad, car ad, or cigarette ad, this may not be considered a scholarly source. But let’s go on to more definitive measures…

A Scholarly periodical article has the following features:

  • Bibliography, footnotes, or endnotes. This provides evidence of the research that was conducted to produce the article.
  • Written by expert(s) in the field. Usually there is a paragraph of information that describes the author’s credentials and current position.
  • Published by Associations, Research Institutes, University Presses.
  • “Peer reviewed.”Refers to the policy of experts in the field examining journal articles before acceptance for publication.
  • Written in the jargon of the field for scholarly readers (professors, researchers or students.)
  • Illustrations that support the text, such as tables of statistics, graphs, maps, or photographs

Popular Magazines on the other hand:

  • No footnotes or references.
  • Written by journalists who are usually not experts in the field.
  • Easy to read. Intended for lay audience. Informative and entertaining.
  • Short articles.
  • Many advertisements throughout the magazine.
  • Glossy, slick. Illustrated with graphics and photos.
  • Unsigned articles.

These criteria apply to all periodicals, online or print.

Search Hints

Keep in mind these search tips when conducting your research:

In women-focused databases, there’s usually no need to put “women” into your search, except where “women” is already part of the term.

In other databases, search for women (OR girls, if relevant) as one concept adding AND to your specific concept, such as hip hop, distance runners, or sitcoms. [You don’t need to put in “women” if your concept already contains a “women word” (ex: chick flicks, mothers, lipstick lesbians), or a name (ex: Madonna, Mother Theresa, etc.)]

Search for synonyms or words that are close enough in meaning to be relevant to your search. Connect them with OR (ex: patriarchy or androcentrism or sexism; consumers or marketing or selling or product)

Search for word stems (truncate*) where any ending of the stem would be useful. Ex: consum* finds consume, consumer, consumption, etc.

Read critically, especially free web material. Consider 1) who wrote the item, 2) the purpose of the site – is it trying to sell you something, convince you, share a particular point of view, inform/explain, etc., and 3) the accuracy of the information. 

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