Answered By: Reference/Instruction Librarians
Last Updated: Jul 05, 2016     Views: 52

Faculty often tell students to use Scholarly rather than Popular articles for research and papers. Scholarly articles are found in journals, not magazines or newspapers. Scholarly articles are also called peer-reviewed or refereed or academic. But, how can you tell the difference between a scholarly and a popular article?

Scholarly articles share many common features, as listed below:

Bibliography or Reference List: Scholarly articles include footnotes, endnotes or parenthetical in-text notes 

referring to items in a bibliography or reference list.

  •  Bibliographies are important to find the original source of an idea or quotation.

Structure -- Abstract: The full text often begins with an abstract or summary containing the main points of the 

article.  It may also be broken down into sections like "Methods" and "Results" and "Discussion"

  • The article abstract is not the same as the abstract or summary that appears in a database.

Authors: Authors’ names are clearly listed with credentials/degrees and affiliations which are often universities or 

research institutions.

  •  The authors are experts in the field.

Audience: The language of the article uses a vocabulary or specialized language intended for other scholars in the 

field, not for the average reader.

  • Scholars are more interested in the background and study of a topic in depth. Students are scholars.

Graphics & Images: The graphics are more likely to include tables, graphs and charts that are as important as the 

article text. If the article has pictures of movie stars or new cars, it's not likely to be scholarly.

  •  Look for a PDF copy of an article in order to get all of the graphics and images in the article.

Length: Scholarly articles are often, but not always, longer than the popular articles found in general interest magazines  

     like Time, Newsweek, National Geographic, etc.

  •  Articles are longer because it takes more content to explore topics in depth.

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