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Popular vs Scholarly Articles

Some general guidelines for identifying popular and scholarly articles:

Popular articles:

  • do not list the author’s credentials
  • are written with the general public as the intended audience
  • are written by journalists
  • do not contain citations
  • have few or no listed references
  • are often colorful and full of images

Example: "Are you on facebook? A week-long diary chronicling what's doing with books on the Web's second largest social network"

If you look at this article in Publisher's Weekly, you will notice that it does not list the author's credentials. This article also begins with the quote "Myspace is over, it's just not cool anymore," which indicates that the article is written in a more casual style to appeal to the general public. Throughout the article, you will find no in-text citations and you will find no references at the end of the article. Finally, if you look at this article as a PDF, you will notice that it is colorful and uses many images. All of these elements point to this article being a popular, rather than scholarly article.

Scholarly articles:

  • often use tables, charts, and graphs
  • use original research
  • are written for experts and by experts
  • show the author's credentials
  • use professional language
  • often have abstracts of the article

Example: "I'll See You On “Facebook”: The Effects of Computer-Mediated Teacher Self-Disclosure on Student Motivation, Affective Learning, and Classroom Climate"

If you look at the full-text pdf of this article, you will notice that the first page begins with an abstract of the article and lists the authors' credentials at the bottom. Throughout the article you will notice a professional writing style, in-text citations, and tables. At the end of this article there is a list of references. All of these elements signify that this is a scholarly, rather than popular, article.

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