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COMM 30: About Scholarly & Popular Articles

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Scholarly & Popular Articles

  • Use scholarly articles when you need the results of a research study, such as an experiment, survey, focus group, film or literary analysis, etc.
  • Trade articles are focused on industry-related topics, practical advice, and news related to a profession.
  • Popular articles include those from newspapers and magazines, which focus on current events and human interest stories. They will sometimes also report about a research study, but you need to refer back to the study to get more detailed information.

Scholarly vs. Popular Periodicals

Vanderbilt University, Peabody Library (3:12)

Peer Review in 3 Minutes

North Carolina State University (NCSU) Libraries (3:15)

How To Read a Scholarly Article

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Anatomy of Scholarly Journal Articles

Scholarly articles include original studies and review articles that contribute to the current scholarship on a given topic. They are written by experts for other experts and are published in journals, many of which are peer-reviewed, meaning that they have been reviewed by other experts before being published.

In the Sciences, researchers will be sharing the results of experiments. In the Social Sciences, researchers will be sharing the results of interviews, surveys, etc. The table below describes the components of scholarly articles in the Sciences and Social Sciences. The majority of articles in these disciplines will have the sections listed below.

Scholarly articles in the Arts and Humanities may read more like essays, rather than reports on scientific experiments, since scholars are making logical arguments based on the evidence they have researched and analyzed. They won't necessarily have labels like those for the Sciences and Social Sciences articles.

Abstract Brief summary of the article, including research question, methodology and results.
Introduction Background information about the topic, leading up to why this study is being done, and may include a brief literature review.
Methods Description of how the study procedures, set-up and how data was collected.
Results/Findings Presentation of the data from the study. This section often includes tables, charts, or other visualizations of the data.
Discussion Analysis of the data and how the study relates to existing knowledge of the topic. The authors evaluate whether their results answer their research question. 
Conclusion The authors wrap up the article by discussion how their study contributes to the research on this topic and outline future  potential research questions or studies. 
References List of resources that the authors consulted when developing their research and subsequently cited in their article.

Examples

Criteria Scholarly Journal Trade Magazine Popular Magazine
Sample Journal / Magazine Cover of the Journal of African American Studies Cover of the magazine Black Enterprise Cover of the magazine Essence
Sample Article from Journal / Magazine

Hollywood, Black Animation, and the Problem of Representation in Little Ol' Bosko and the Princess and the Frog

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To Change the Oscars, We Must Challenge Hollywood

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Magical Thinking

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Audience Academics and professionals People in the business General public
Authors Experts or specialists. Unpaid. Staff writers, industry specialists, or vendor representatives. Paid. Journalists, staff writers, or freelance writers. Paid.
Editorial Review Journal editorial board and peer reviewers. Unpaid. Professional Editors. Paid. Professional Editors. Paid.
References / Works Cited Almost always Sometimes Rarely

Modeled after NCSU Libraries "Scholarly & Popular Materials" tutorial.