Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
McFarlin Logo
Library Hours (Complete list of hours)
Monday - Thursday 9:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Friday 9:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Saturday Closed
Sunday Closed

Get Help

ANTH 2033/2031: Scholarly vs. Popular Information Sources

This Library Guide is for students enrolled in ANTH 2033/2031.

Scholarly vs. Popular

At McFarlin Library we've observed confusion among some students about the difference between scholarly or academic sources of information and popular sources.  For example, professors generally want to see that you've utilized scholarly materials, such as articles published in academic journals, when researching for papers or other assignments, so understanding the distinction is important.  The grid on the right briefly summarizes some of the things to look for when you're trying to determine if an article you've found (either in print or from an online source) is scholarly or popular in nature.

If you're still not sure, even after consulting the grid, then just ask a librarian.

Credits

Some information on this page adapted from Library Instruction - Package Two - 75 Minute Session by J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College Library.  Used with permission.

Distinguishing Scholarly Journals from Popular Magazines

Criteria

Scholarly Journals

Popular Magazines

Format/Style:

Serious/Formal

Many visuals/Informal

Graphics:

Contains graphs, tables, and charts with few photographs

Contains photographs, illustrations, and other colorful graphics

Sources/Documentation:

Sources cited with footnotes and/or bibliographies

Citations or bibliography rarely provided and original sources can be obscure

Authors/Audience

Identified

Scholars or researchers in the field or discipline; intended for scholars or researchers in respective field or discipline

Not always identified

Publication’s staff or journalists; intended for a broad audience

Language:

Uses terminology or jargon specific to respective discipline

Simple; easily understood

Purpose/Scope:

Informs, reports or makes available original research or experimentation

Entertains or persuades and occasionally utilized to sell products or services

Publishers:

Published by an academic press or professional organization

Published by commercial/trade organizations for profit.

Advertisements:

Selective/Rare

Extensive

Examples:

Art Bulletin
Economic Journal
Journal of Marriage and the Family
Modern Fiction Studies

Ebony
Ms.
Parents
Sports Illustrated

 

Adapted from: Kennedy, Mary Lynch and William J. Kennedy, eds.  “Chapter Nine:  Writing Research Papers.”  Writing in the Disciplines:  A Reader and Rhetoric for Academic Writers 6th ed.  Upper Saddle River, NJ:  Pearson Prentice Hall, 2008.  286-332.