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Liberal Studies 495: Evaluating Resources

Scholarly vs Popular

University of Texas Libraries [utlibraries]. (2011. October 17). Peer reivew demystified (Tip Jar) [Video file]. Retrieved from

To find out whether an article would be considered scholarly, look up the journal in library database Ulrich’s Periodical Directory. Search by journal title (not by article) and look for the refereed icon: . Also look for “Journal” under Serial Type and “Academic / Scholarly” under Content Type. 

The table at the bottom notes typical attributes of popular and scholarly articles, although you may find exceptions. 




Scholarly / Academic            


professional writers or journalists

researchers and experts in a field


general public

students, faculty, and other scholars

Reading level / language

easily understood by most adult readers

technical, discipline-specific; often difficult to understand by readers new or unfamiliar with the field

Topic focus

news and current events, popular culture, etc.

targeted research


short, e.g. 1-5 pages

longer, e.g. 10-20 pages


glossy pages with photos and full-color illustrations

graphics limited to tables, charts, and scientific illustrations


few to none

full list of citations for sources used

Review process prior to publishing

reviewed by editors

peer-reviewed (“refereed”) by other experts in the field

Note: Book reviews and editorials, regardless of source, are not usually considered scholarly.