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Library Resources for Education   Tags: articles, books, education, library, resources  

Last Updated: Jun 21, 2016 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

Types of Articles Print Page

Scholarly vs. Popular

Your instructor may require that you use scholarly articles in your research.  These articles are also known as academic, or peer-reviewed articles.  What he or she is asking you to use are journals that contain articles written by scholars in order to develop the body of knowledge in the subject areas in which they specialize.This video clip from The Peabody Library at Vanderbilt University will help you identify scholarly sources so that if your professor requires you to use only scholarly sources, you'll know what he or she is talking about.


Scholarly Journals


Scholarly, academic, peer-reviewed, juried, or refereed — These are all synonyms for the same type of journal, one that presents and preserves a record of scholarship for an academic or research-oriented audience.  The language of scholarly journals is that of the discipline covered. It assumes some academic background on the part of the reader. 

Many academic journals, though by no means all, are published by scholarly societies or discipline-specific professional organizations. As part of the publication process, scholarly articles are reviewed by committees of other notable scholars.  Such reviewers are considered to be the writer's peers; hence, the term peer-reviewed journal.  Usually, a committee or jury of scholars does the reviewing; hence, the terms juried journal or refereed journal.

Peer-reviewed articles most often have an abstract or descriptive summary of the article printed before the main text starts.  The affiliations of the authors are provided, usually at the bottom of the first page or at the end of the article — universities, research institutes, think tanks, and the like.

Refereed articles build upon the scholarship of the past to advance knowledge in a field; thus, they will always cite their sources in the form of footnotes or bibliographies to which the reader can refer in her own pursuit of the topic.  Moreover, the ethics of scholarship require that a writer clearly identify those works of others writers upon which his own work is based.


  • American Educational Research Journal
  • Reading Research Quarterly
  • Journal of Teacher Education
  • Language Arts
  • Children's Literature in Education

Articles in Scholarly, Professional, and Popular Publications

Unless otherwise instructed by your professor, you'll probably want to use a variety sources to help you gain a complete understanding of your topic.  Types of sources for articles include Scholarly, Professional, and Popular publications.  To use them skillfully you need to be able to identify them and understand their differences.

Scholarly material is produced by scholars/experts whose credentials can be evaluated. Aimed at other scholars, it disseminates specialized and discipline-specific information, often reporting on original research and experimentation. Scholarly information is a great choice for college students, though it can be challenging to read because of its scholarly language. Scholarly sources are often called academic or peer-reviewed. Scholarly articles will usually contain a list of references as well.

Professional and substantive material is produced by scholars or credentialed journalists and is geared toward an educated audience. It provides credible information of relevance to an educated and concerned public. This type of information is a good choice for many assignments because it provide credible information that is readily assessible in paper or electronic formats.

Popular material is created by journalists, staff writers or freelance writers, and, sometimes, by enthusiasts. This type of information is aimed at the general public. It usually provides a broad overview of topics a general readership will find entertaining. If you use popular material for academic work you'll need to be sure to supplement it with articles from scholarly and professional or substantive sources.

This Web chart from Humboldt State University Library provides examples of these three types of publications.  The chart separates professional and substantive into two categories. 


Why Use Research Databases?

Learn the difference between using library research databases and the free Web.

Google Scholar

Google Scholar is good for finding free full-text of sometimes hard to locate articles.


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