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SOCI 201 - Introduction to Sociology - Hall: Articles

Literature Review

Scholarly vs Popular Periodicals

Though these are not hard and fast rules, the following are general characteristics of scholarly journals and popular magazines.


Scholarly Journals

Popular Magazines

Length of Articles

Lengthy (5-50) pages.

Short (1-5 pages).


Are intended for an academic or scholarly audience.

General, non-academic, non-specialized audience.


Publish articles written by academics, specialists or researchers in the field.

Journalists, rather than researchers or specialists in a given field.


Bibliography, also called footnotes or cited references.  Allows the reader to consult the same material that the author used in his/her research.

None.  The reader cannot check the author’s information by tracking down and reading the original information source.


Usually monthly, quarterly, or once or twice a year.

Published frequently (weekly, biweekly, or monthly).


· Often publish reviews of the literature.

· Charts or tables.

· Little or no advertising.

· Many photographs or other illustrations.

· Extensive commercial advertising.


Generally confined to a single, very specific aspect of a subject area (e.g., music theory, European political science, film studies, language development.)

· Variety of topic/subject areas (Time, Newsweek).

· Or single subject area with the intention of informing or entertaining a general audience (Sports Illustrated).


Use technical or specialized vocabulary unique to a specific subject area.

Use conventional/conversational language, as opposed to a specialized vocabulary.

Peer-Review Process

Yes, articles are sent to authorities in a particular subject field that decide whether it is a credible piece of research.

No, magazine staff personnel edit articles.

Recommended Databases for Sociology Topics

The following library databases are excellent resources for finding journal articles containing reports of sociological research studies (original research). Remember to look out for the terminology and features typically found in these reports: Method; Sample; Charts & Graphs; Results; Discussion; and References.