Scholarly vs. Popular Materials
The library provides access to all sorts of resources-books, journals,
databases, and web resources. Not everything in the library (or on the
Web) is purely academic, or scholarly, in nature. Materials that
truly scholarly are called "popular."
Popular publications are usually intended for a general audience, and
the articles are written by journalists. Journalists are not "bad," but
they typically do not specialize in particular subjects.
"Popular" publications also very often need to market their information
and sell it, so they may be likely to report on what is interesting to
its readers (as well as people they wish to acquire as readers) rather
than what is truly important.
Professional and industry-specific publications are also not usually
scholarly, but are more reliable than general news resources,
especially if published by an organization of note in the field.
Scholarly materials are usually meant for real research; the audience
for scholarly materials is usually composed of college students,
professors, and serious researchers. The articles in scholarly
publications are usually written by professors, researchers,
specialists, or experts. Peer-reviewed or refereed ones are evaluated
before they ever go to print. Here are a few things to think
about when evaluating publications.
this resource aimed at? Is it intended to simply inform or entertain,
or is intended to disseminate academic research?
wrote the article? Is that person simply a journalist reporting on a
topic, or is that person a specialist? What are the credentials of the
person writing the article?
– does the source use other sources or research? Does it cite
does the source use every day language that anybody can understand? Or
does it employ academic, technical, or specialized vocabulary?
publication cover a variety of topics, or is its focus on one
particular topic or field?
the publication peer-reviewed or
means other professionals or specialists (peers) review the material
and determine whether the content of the article is appropriate and
it contain a lot of commercial
little or no ads? Are the ads general or related to the
of the publication?
- Examples of popular
Library Jounral (it's
- Examples of
publications: Journal of the
American Medical Association,
of Physical Chemistry, Journal
of Clinical Psychology.