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ENG 106 Composition II : Scholarly vs The World

Know your article type

Once you have gained a good background in your topic, and gotten some perspectives from books, the next place you may want to look for information is journal or magazine articles. Sometimes students begin their research with this step. It may be that if you are researching a topic you have some familiarity with, going straight for articles is an appropriate strategy. But keep an open mind about needing to go back to more general sources to fill in any holes in your knowledge as you do so.

But before we get to the "where do I get articles" question -- Did you know there are more than one kind of article?

Most publications that come out with new issues on some timetable (librarians call them "periodicals") can be put into one of two, broad categories: Scholarly journals or Popular magazines. These publications have some big differences, and the kinds of information you get from each of them will be different. What are some of these differences?

"Popular"* articles
Scholarly Articles
Are written for a general audience--not specialists
Are written for professionals or specialists in a field
Are written by journalists
Are written by specialists or professionals in a field
Are stories typically assigned to writers by an editor
Are written by scholars who are sharing their research with fellow scholars. These articles go through a process of peer-review
Are written in language aimed at non specialists--"anyone" can understand
May be written using highly specialized or technical language--the "jargon" of a field
Can be short, to the point, summaries of a story or idea
Are more lengthy, explore a topic in depth
Magazines are often filled with pictures, advertising for general products
Journals rarely have pictures (though there may be graphs of data) and only have ads for professional tools, if any at all
May or may not have a bibliography or list of references
Always have a bibliography or list of references

*This an outdated way of looking at sources, since the Internet has made the proliferation of multiple types of information possible. However, it's easier for comparisons' sake.

Mostly your teachers will make it clear whether they expect you to use scholarly sources, popular sources, or a combination. If you have a question about whether a source you are looking at is scholarly or popular, ask a librarian!


Scholarly or Popular: The exercise

Video from Kimbel Library