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Introduction to Research: Scholarly vs. Popular



Scholarly articles have a very distinct look and feel to them. Once you see a few you won't ever need to ask yourself, "is this a scholarly article?" To see an example, download the pdf below.


Sometimes it can be challenging and confusing to tell the difference between scholarly, peer-reviewed articles and popular articles. I often tell students that if it 'looks boring and sounds boring' it is more than likely a scholarly article!

Once you see a few scholarly articles you will see that they share a look and feel that is very different than magazine articles you might be used to reading.

Scholarly Journals/Articles are:

  • written to inform, report, or make available original research to the rest of the scholarly world
  • written by and for scholars or researchers in a specific subject area or field
  • always going to cite their sources as footnotes, endnotes, or reference lists (bibliographies) at the end of the article
  • full of terminology, jargon, and language specific to the discipline. Readers are assumed to have a similar scholarly background
  • oftentimes put through a strict review process by peers within the same discipline (peer-review)
  • written with an abstract, a methodologies section, a conclusion, and references list

Nursing Research   October 2019 cover


Popular Articles/Magazines are:

  • written to entertain you
  • usually short with catchy titles
  • written by magazine staff or a free-lance writer
  • written WITHOUT cited sources
  • written in a language most everyone can understand
  • full of photographs, illustrations, and graphics
  • full of advertisement meant to entice readers

 Image result for people magazine