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Queen's School of English

Includes resources of support teaching and learning in the Queen's School of English.

Identify Scholarly Journals

Distinguishing Scholarly Journals from Other Journals

Journals and magazines are important sources for up-to-date information in all disciplines. For research papers, you will be required to use scholarly sources. Therefore, it is very important to be able to distinguish scholarly writing from other types of writing.

The following criteria will help you distinguish between these following types of periodical publications: scholarly journals, general interest magazines, popular magazines, trade journals and magazines, and sensational news.

Scholarly   |   General Interest   |   Popular   |   Trade   |   Sensational

Characteristics of Scholarly and Popular Resources

Scholarly sources are authoritative, because they are

  • Written by experts in a field of study
  • The result of research
  • Reviewed and evaluated by other subject experts
  • Intended for an academic audience (i.e. researchers, professors, and students)
Popular sources are less credible, because they are
  • Written by authors who are not experts in the field
  • Not reviewed and evaluated by experts in the field
  • Intended for the general public
  • Informal in tone and scope
  Scholarly Publications Popular Publications
Appearance simple layout with serious appearance and dense text - main attraction is the articles colourful, glossy, photos, illustrations, advertisements
Audience scholars, researchers, students and well-educated public general public
Authors scholars, professional practitioners journalists, professional and amateur writers who lack subject expertise
Content in depth analysis or extensive overview of a topic simple discussions of news, entertainment, or other popular subjects
Review Process works published after review by credible scholars in the discipline (peer review) works reviewed by publication editors or purchased
Research Documentation footnotes and bibliographies cite the author's research information sources are rarely cited
Language technical language in the specialised vocabulary of the discipline covered simple, non-technical language
Purpose/Intent Present cutting-edge research specific to the field to inform or entertain the reader, sell products, and/or promote a viewpoint
Examples Canadian Journal of Political Science, Shakespeare Quarterly, French Historical Studies Newsweek, Sports Illustrated, Vogue, People