Frequently Asked Questions
How do I search for articles published only in scholarly/research journals, or for articles published only in popular magazines--and how do I tell the difference?
Answer:Many of the article databases include scholarly, academic, refereed or peer-reviewed articles. These articles are considered the "gold standard" of academic publishing. However, even the databases that are largely focused on scholarly journals may include a minority of popular magazines. Check the "About" link for a given database to see what types of content it includes.
A growing number of databases have capabilities to let you search by or limit to scholarly journals. Look for this feature on the search screen. In most cases, as you evaluate a given article you can tell whether it is popular or scholarly by the nature of the article itself.
Scholarly or academic journal articles:
- Contain long articles (5+ pages)
- Articles always have bibliographies, footnotes or cited reference pages.
- Use technical or specialized vocabulary.
- Publish articles written by academics, specialists or researchers in the field (as opposed to articles written by journalists reporting on or synthesizing research).
- Examples include: New England Journal of Medicine, Developmental Psychology, Journal of Religion
- Tend to have short articles (1-5 pages).
- Articles contain no bibliography or cited reference page.
- Use conversational language, as opposed to a specialized vocabulary.
- Newspapers are considered a popular source
- Examples include: Time, Newsweek, Business Week, Sports Illustrated, New York Times
- Try a database like MasterFile Premiere (1975 - present)
Learn more: Scholarly vs. Popular (PDF)