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Saint Paul College A Community & Technical College

​​​​What is a Scholarly Article?

Your instructor may tell you to only use “scholarly” sources for a project. They may also call them “academic,” “peer-reviewed,” “professional journals.” What does that mean? How can I tell a scholarly source versus a “popular” source?

Scholarly JournalsPopular Magazines
AuthorityWill list academic credentials of the
May/may not list academic credentials of the author(s).
PublisherTypically a university or academically inclined organization.Typically a commercial publishing firm or media organization.
DocumentationWill contain footnotes, references, and/or bibliographies.May/may not contain footnotes, references, and/or bibliographies.
Peer ReviewExamined by experts in the field for accuracy and research validity before publication.No peer review process.
AudienceScholars, researchers, students.General public.
FrequencyMonthly, Quarterly, or 2-3 times per year.Generally a weekly or monthly publication.
ContentFocus on text and tabular data, less on visual appeal; advertising for field-related products.Colorful, glossy, many photographs and illustrations; high importance on visual appeal; advertising for commercial products.
ExamplesJAMA, American Journal of Nursing, Journal of Faculty Development, Journal of Developmental Education, Nursing Outlook.Time, Business Week, Psychology Today, People, Forbes, Money, U.S. News and World Report.
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