Critically evaluating resources is an important piece of the research process. In order to effectively evaluate articles, it is useful to distinguish scholarly journals from non-scholarly journals.


Scholarly Journals

Popular Magazines


Have a serious look.
Contains graphs and charts but few photos.


Have a slick look.
Include illustrations, drawings, or color photos.


Always cite their sources with footnotes or bibliography.


Sometimes sources are cited, but usually not.


Written by a scholar or researcher in the field.


Generally written by a member of the magazine's staff or a free lance writer.
Articles may also be unsigned.


Written for an audience with background in the field.


Covers general interests and appeals to a broad audience.
Main purpose is to entertain.


Much of the research done is original.


Information is second or third hand.


Includes few advertisements.


Includes many advertisements.


Many of these journals are published by
professional organizations, scholarly presses or universities.


Published by commercial presses.

Journal of Marriage and Family
American Economic Review
Modern Fiction Studies
People Weekly
Sports Illustrated

Adapted from:

Engle, Michael. Distinguishing scholarly journals from other periodicals.
      Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Library. Retrieved on March 25, 2003, from the World Wide Web:

Winston Salem State University Library. Library guides - distinguishing between scholarly journals
      and other periodicals. Winston-Salem, NC: Winston-Salem University. Retrieved March 25, 2003, from the
      World Wide Web: