Scholarly vs. Popular: Characteristics of Scholarly Resources
Explains the distinction between scholarly and popular materials.
Scholarly Journals vs. Popular Magazines
The word "periodical" refers to magazines, newspapers, and scholarly journals. Newspapers and popular magazines like People, or Road and Track, are familiar to everyone. Scholarly journals (also called academic, professional, or peer-reviewed journals), are written by experts for other experts. They are considered more authoritative than most other sources, because each article is written by experts and reviewed by a panel of experts from the same field before publication. In-depth research will usually require you to find scholarly journal articles on your subject.
Use everyday language
Use technical language
Written for the general reader
Written for experts by other experts
Do not include references to sources of information used to write the article
Include a list of references at the end of the article
Generally make only passing references to research, if at all
Often report on research and include descriptions of the methodology used and statistical analysis of the results (articles in the humanities, such as literature or religion, are excepted)
Articles are chosen and checked by editors
Articles must pass a review by experts in the same field before publication.
Note: Scholarly journal articles are not always perfect. Every year many articles are withdrawn because of errors detected subsequent to publication, or because of ethical violations on the part of one of the authors.
The same general characteristics apply to scholarly books as to journals: they use technical language, are written by experts for experts, and employ "scholarly apparatus" such as detailed references giving the sources of information used. There are also books which, although they are not "scholarly" in the same sense, are highly specialized, and are intended for a reader in a specific field. (An example is Safe Operation of Fire Tankers, published by the U.S. Fire Administration.)
There is no "checkoff" option in the library search to determine scholarly/popular status for books. In general, you must look at the book, examine its language, and determine its intended audience in order to determine whether it is popular or scholarly/field specific.
What Is a Scholarly Journal Article?
Filter by Peer Reviewed Status
Many of the Library's databases have a check-off option for scholarly ("peer-reviewed") journals, making it easy to limit your search to peer-reviewed publications.
The ScienceDirect and MEDLINE interfaces do not have such a checkoff option, but almost every article in these databases is from a peer-reviewed journal. New Scientist is the only popular magazine on ScienceDirect.