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FS 100 - College Success - McCloskey: Articles

Scholarly vs. Popular

Check Your Source


Table outlining differences between scholarly journals, popular magazines, and trade publications.

Check Your Sources

Scholarly Journal

  • In-Depth- primary account of original findings written by the researcher.  Very specific information.
  • Purpose- to advance knowledge and educate.
  • Author- Usually a scholar or specialist with subject expertise and credentials provided.
  • Written for scholars, researchers, and students.
  • Uses specialized terminology or jargon of the field.
  • Format- includes the article abstract, goals and objectives, methodology, results (evidence), discussion, conclusion, and bibliography.
  • Articles are evaluated by peer-reviewers or referees who are experts in the field.
  • References are provided.
  • Examples- Journal of Abnormal Psychology, History of Education Quarterly

Popular Magazine

  • Secondary discussion of someone else's research, may include personal narrative or opinion, general information.
  • Purpose- to entertain or inform
  • Author- frequently a journalist paid to write articles, may or may not have subject expertise.
  • Written for the general public and interested non-specialists.
  • Easily understandable to most readers.
  • Format- may include non-standard formatting.  May not present supporting evidence or a conclusion.
  • Articles are evaluated by editorial staff not experts in the field.
  • References or source materials rarely provided.
  • Examples- Sports Illustrated, National Geographic, Time, Newsweek, Ladies Home Journal.

Trade Journal or Magazine

  • Current news, trends or products in a specific field or industry.
  • Purpose- provide practical industry information
  • Author- usually industry professional, sometimes a journalist with subject expertise.
  • Written for industry professionals and interested non-specialists.
  • Uses specialized terminology or jargon of the field, but not as technical as a scholarly journal.
  • Format- organized like a journal or newsletter.  Presents evidence from personal experience or common knowledge.
  • Articles are evaluated by editorial staff, not peer reviewed.
  • References may be provided in brief bibliography, not required.
  • Examples- PC World, Restaurant Business, Psychology Today, School Band and Orchestra

Refining Your Search

When you perform a database search, often you will be given a lot of results -more than you could ever go through. When this happens, it's important to tell the database exactly what kind of resources your looking for by applying filters.

Filters (sometimes called limiters) help take away search results you don't want. You can filter by type and date.

Type - Each of these filters helps to make sure that the kinds of results your search gives you are appropriate for research.

  • Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) Journals - Limits results to only articles that have been reviewed by other experts (so we know we can trust it too).
  • Academic Journals - Limits results to only articles presenting research and findings.
  • Full Text - Limits results to only articles you can access right now. However, remember that the library can bring in journals we don't currently have from other libraries.

Date - These filters limit your results according to when they were published.

  • Limit results to the last 5 years - This ensures that you only see the most recent articles on your topic. You may continue to subtract years if your  results are still too large.

Background Databases

These databases are good for getting general information about your topic.

Recommended number of keywords: 1-2

These databases allow you a more in depth exploration of your topic