Popular vs. Scholarly Articles - Tutorial

Popular vs. Scholarly Articles - Guide

You may be required to include articles from scholarly journals for some class assignments. You should understand the difference between scholarly and popular articles. This exercise will teach you how to identify and tell the difference between popular and scholarly articles. Follow the directions below and fill in the blanks. If you are doing this assignment as part of a class, when you are finished you can make a printout of your answers .


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What is the difference between popular and scholarly articles?

Popular (Magazines)

  • Are often written by journalists or professional writers for a general audience
  • Use language easily understood by general readers
  • Rarely give full citations for sources
  • Written for the general public
  • Tend to be shorter than journal articles

Examples of Popular Magazines:

Business Week cover Time cover Discover cover
US New & World Report cover Astronomy cover


Scholarly (Journals)

  • Are written by and for faculty, researchers or scholars (chemists, historians, doctors, artists, etc.)
  • Uses scholarly or technical language
  • Tend to be longer articles about research
  • Include full citations for sources 
  • Are often refereed or peer reviewed (articles are reviewed by an editor and other specialists before being accepted for publication)
  • Book reviews and editorials are not considered scholarly articles, even when found in scholarly journals

Examples of Scholarly Journals:

American Journal of Political Science cover Business History Review cover International Journal of Middle East Studies cover
Child Development cover The Classical Review cover

Review Questions

1. Articles written by university professors in a given field are

a. popular   b. scholarly


2. The glossy covers on these are meant to attract people at the supermarket check-out counter

a. popular magazines  b. scholarly journal


3. A 15 page article with a list of references will be found in a

a. popular magazine   b. scholarly journal  c. newspaper


Here are some real citations. Using the above criteria for popular vs. scholarly articles (audience, length, author, style of language, type of article), review them and indicate which type of article each probably is.

4. Mallozzi, Michele. "Fork in the Road", American Fitness , Nov/Dec99, Vol. 17 Issue 6, p44, 3p, 2 charts; Focuses on the impact of vegetarianism on an athlete's health; effect of vegetarianism and sports participation on eating disorders.

a. popular   b. scholarly   c. don't know


5. Lee, Richard; Keough, Kelli. "Social Connectedness, Social Appraisal and Perceived Stress in College Women and Men", Journal of Counseling & Development , Summ2002, Vol. 80, Issue 3, p.343-355. Study examined the effects of social connectedness and perceived stress of college men and women. Two hundred and fourteen college students were surveyed.

a. popular   b. scholarly   c. don't know


6. Fulkerson, Jayne A.; Keel, Pamela K. "Eating-Disordered Behaviors and Personality Characteristics of High School Athletes and Nonathletes," International Journal of Eating Disorders , Jul99, Vol. 26 Issue 1, p73, 9p, 1 chart; Studies high school athletes risk for an eating disorder. Methodology used in the study; Data comparison with nonathletes. '

a. popular   b. scholarly   c. don't know


7. Neporent, Liz. "When Vegetarianism Raises a Red Flag," New York Times , 01/05/99, Vol. 148 Issue 51393, pF7, 1/4 p, 1c; Discusses the link of vegetarianism and eating disorders in young athletic women.

a. popular   b. scholarly   c. don't know


8. Macola, Giacomo. "Swiss Missionaries and the Construction of Knowledge about Africa." Journal of African History , 2008, Vol. 49 Issue 2, p311-313, 3p. A review of the book: Butterflies & Barbarians: Swiss Missionaries & Systems of Knowledge in Southeast Africa .

a. popular   b. scholarly   c. don't know


Congratulations! You are done! Click on the button below to get your results page. If you are doing the tutorial for a class, you can print the results page to give your instructor.


If you have questions about this exercise, contact:


(this exercise was originally created by Ruth Dickstein,Social Sciences Librarian)

Last modified: December 15, 2015