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Music 220 -- Seminar in Research Methods and Bibliography -- Dr. Partow Hooshmandrad

Scholarly vs. Popular Articles

Popular vs. Scholarly Articles

Type of Source
Popular magazines
Scholarly Journals
General public; use language understood by the average reader
For students, scholars, researchers; use specialized language of a discipline
News items, feature stories, editorials and opinion pieces
Original research, theory; may include an abstract
Visual, lots of advertising, color, photos, short articles with no bibliographies or references
Little or no advertising, lengthy articles, charts and tables, bibliographies & references
May or may not be named, frequently a staff writer, not a subject expert
Authors are specialists, articles are signed, credentials such as degrees and university affiliation are given.
News, general information or entertainment, opinion
To disseminate research findings, publicize current topics in the field and professional issues

Evaluating Journal Articles

Peer-reviewed/ Scholarly articles have already been published, and have gone through a review and editing process (unlike web sites or popular articles). But it is still a good idea to evaluate them.

Source - Look for articles from scholarly journals, written by experts in the subject. There will be references that can lead you to additional books and articles on the topic. In some databases, you can limit your search by type of article -- a research article, an editorial, a review, or a clinical trial.

Length - The length of the article, noted in the citation, can be a good clue as to whether the article will be useful for research.

Authority - Use authoritative sources in your research. Use articles written by experts in the subject area, and who are affiliated with an academic institution.

Date – research in many subjects requires the most current information available. Is the article sufficiently up-to-date for your purpose?

Audience - For what type of reader is the author writing? If an article is written for other professionals, it will use terms and language special to the subject area.

Usefulness - Is the article relevant to your research topic?