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SOCI301: Introduction to Sociological Research: Scholarly vs. Popular

Scholarly or Popular?

The articles below deal with the topic of video games and violence. Follow the links to the full text of the articles and answer the questions below.

Questions for Discussion

How do the articles differ? (Remember to consider criteria such as content, audience, and author’s credentials.)

Which texts are scholarly journal articles? 

Scholarly (Peer-Reviewed) vs. Popular Sources

When conducting research it is important to distinguish between journal articles and magazine articles. Journal articles are typically referred to as "scholarly," while magazine articles are usually considered "popular." Note that not everything published in a scholarly journal is peer-reviewed; there are also book reviews, editorials, etc., that wlil show up in searches of scholarly journals but that are not peer-reviewed articles.

CriteriaScholarly JournalsPopular Magazines
Content In-depth, primary account of original findings written by the researcher(s); very specific information, with the goal of scholarly communication. Secondary discussion of someone else's research; may include personal narrative or opinion; general information; purpose is to entertain or inform.
Author Author's credentials are provided; usually a scholar or specialist with subject expertise. Author is frequently a journalist paid to write articles; may or may not have subject expertise.
Audience Scholars, researchers, and students. General public; the interested non-specialist.
Language Specialized terminology or jargon of the field; requires expertise in subject area. Vocabulary in general usage; easily understandable to most readers.
Graphics Graphs, charts, and tables; very few advertisements and photographs. Graphs, charts and tables; lots of glossy advertisements and photographs.
Layout & Organization Structured; generally includes the article abstract, goals and objectives, methodology, results (evidence), discussion, conclusion, and bibliography. Informal; may include non-standard formatting. May not present supporting evidence or a conclusion.
Accountability Articles are evaluated by peer-reviewers or referees who are experts in the field; edited for content, format, and style. Articles are evaluated by editorial staff, not experts in the field; edited for format and style.
References Required. Quotes and facts are verifiable. Rare. Little, if any, information about source materials is given.
Examples Annals of Mathematics, Journal of Abnormal Psychology, History of Education Quarterly, almost anything with Journal in the title.

Time, Newsweek, The Nation, The Economist

Adapted from a LibGuide by Beth Rohloff at Tufts University's Tisch Library.

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