MSJC Libraries: Scholarly Journals vs. Popular Magazines

What's the difference between scholarly and popular sources?

Your instructor said that you cannot use the Internet to find sources for your paper. Instead, you have to use "scholarly journals" and other academic resources from the library. So what does that mean?

Scholarly journals are published by universities, societies, or associations of specialized fields. Scholars in those fields write articles that present the results of original research and experimentation or provide technical or professional information. The articles go through a peer-review evaluation process before being published, during which other scholars in the same field review and provide feedback about the articles' quality, accuracy, relevance to scholarship in the field, validity of research methodology and procedures, and more. You can learn more about the differences between "scholarly" and "popular" sources below.

Ready to start searching for scholarly journal articles? You will find them in our EBSCO and JSTOR databases. Connect to those through the Popular Databases link on the library homepage.

Scholarly Journals

Scholarly journal images

  • Focused on a particular field of study
  • Based on original research or experimentation
  • Written by scholars or experts in a particular field
  • Read by professionals, students or educators in the subject area
  • Use scholarly, technical, research-oriented language
  • Include references, bibliographies or footnotes
  • Contain little or no advertising

Popular Magazines

Popular magazine images

  • General interest stories or entertainment information
  • Based on fact-finding and/or opinion
  • Written by staff writers or journalists
  • Read by the general public
  • Easy to understand language
  • Usually do not include references
  • Contain lots of colorful advertising