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Research Paper Basics: Scholarly/Peer-Reviewed vs. Popular

 

 

Know the Difference

There are three types of publications that you may encounter in GALILEO, on the internet, or on library shelves. Understanding the difference is vital to knowing which sources are reliable and relevant to your research. When in doubt, ask your professor.

Scholarly / Peer-Reviewed Journals or Periodicals

Stock photo of researcher holding plant sample

Purpose

Scholarly or peer-reviewed journals present and/or report on original research.

Authors

Written by experts in their fields often affiliated with colleges or universities, or other institutions. Credentials that are explicitly stated.

Audience

Other scholars, researchers, and students

Characteristics

  • Specialized terminology and jargon related to the field or subject
  • Defined structure such as an abstract, objective, methodology, results, analysis, and conclusion
  • Has charts, graphs to describe research findings
  • Includes citations and a list of references or a bibliography with sources that can be verified
  • Article is peer-reviewed meaning other experts has reviewed the paper's content for accuracy, methodology, and relevance
  • Little or no advertising

Popular Publications or Magazines

Stock photo of popular magazines

Purpose

To inform and/or entertain

Authors

Written by generalists or non experts who are typically employed by or contracted to write for a publication or website. 

Audience

General public and non-experts interested in a particular subject

Characteristics

  • Uses general vocabulary so that it can be understood by most readers 
  • Informal structure with a layout that is eye-catching to attract readers
  • Includes advertising 
  • Has photographs or illustrations and may include eye-catching graphics
  • Rarely includes citations or detailed information about sources
  • Articles are not peer-reviewed 

Trade Journals or Publications

Stock photo of man reading a business publication

Purpose

To report issues, trends, and news within a profession or industry

Authors

Written by journalists or freelancers or the authors may be experts or scholars in the profession or industry.

Audience

Practitioners within the particular profession or industry

Characteristics

  • Uses jargon and terminology common within the industry
  • May have advertising but it is usually targeted for the publication's audience
  • Articles may be short and to-the-point
  • Includes photographs and graphics

Credits 

Peer Review in 3 Minutes by North Carolina State University Libraries, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States license.

 

 

Scientist Image by Chokniti Khongchum on Pexels  | Magazines Image by Charisse Kenion on Unsplash | Business Page Image by Free-Photos on Pixabay

Comparison chart adapted from