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Scholarly v. Popular*

What are they? Scholarly or peer-reviewed journal articles are written by scholars or professionals who are experts in their fields. Popular sources aim to inform a wide audience about issues of interest and are much more informal in tone and scope.

Why do we care? Evidence. You want to base your writing and arguments on the best available evidence. While both types of sources contain credible information, scholarly articles (usually) provide the best evidence for the authors' claims (through high-quality citations and the peer-review process).

How do you know which is which?

Scholarly [Criteria] Popular
research projects, methodology, and theory Contents personalities, news, and general interest articles
specialized Audience general
subject experts Authors journalists and generalists
academic institutions Affiliation staff or freelance writers
highly focused, geared towards researchers and professionals Topics more generalized, geared towards nonprofessionals
peer-reviewed (usually) Review Process edited but not peer-reviewed
bibliographies/footnotes References no bibliographies
many have dull covers Appearance glossy, eye-catching covers
few or none Advertisements many
Journal of Food Science, Urban Studies, Journal of Applied Psychology, Annals of Human Genetics Examples People, New York Times, Psychology Today, Time

*Types of Periodicals - Periodical is a generic term used for magazines and scholarly journals. They are materials that are published at regular intervals (monthly, quarterly, daily, etc.).