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English 102: College Writing (Prof. Delcourt): Evaluating

Scholarly, Trade, & Popular Articles

Identifying scholarly articles involves analysis of the article's content. The chart below is meant to help you in this process; however, any one criteria by itself may not indicate that an article is scholarly. For example, a 30 page photo spread in People about stars at the Academy Awards is not scholarly, even though it is long.

 

Journal Cover  Image result for scholarly journal cover  Image result for scholarly journal cover

Scholarly Journals

Image result for trade magazine cover  Image result for trade magazine cover  

Trade or Professional Magazines

Magazine Cover  Image result for trade magazine cover  Image result for trade magazine cover

Popular Magazines

Length Longer articles (often 10+ pages), providing in-depth analysis  Mid-length articles (often 2-8 pages), providing practical guidance Shorter articles (often <1-5 pages), providing broader overviews
Author An expert or specialist in the field (often a professor), name and credentials always provided Usually someone working in the field, with hands-on experience; some staff writers Usually a staff writer or a journalist, name and credentials often not provided
Language Professional language, jargon, theoretical terms Some jargon and technical terms Non-technical language 
Likely Audience  Scholarly readers (professors, researchers or students) Other people working in the industry  Anyone
Advertisements Few or none Some -- products to sell to practitioners in that industry Many -- products for the general public
Format/Structure Usually structured, with likely sections: abstract, literature review, methodology, results, conclusion, bibliography Sometimes has sub-sections for organization No specific format or structure
Special Features Illustrations that support the text, such as tables of statistics, graphs, maps, or photographs Some illustrations; practical guidelines, best practices, lesson plans, how-to, or other hands-on direction Glossy/color illustrations or graphics, usually for advertising purposes
Editors Reviewed and critically evaluated by several editors. Often refereed or peer-reviewed by experts in the field. Editorial board of other practitioners or professionals in the field, but no external peer review Not evaluated by experts in the field, but by editors or other journalists on staff
Credits Bibliography (works cited) and/or footnotes are always present to document research Usually no formal bibliography, although references to other research are often mentioned in-text No bibliography, although references to other research are sometimes mentioned in-text

Still can't tell the difference? These resources can help:
Ulrichsweb  (periodicals directory) -- look up a journal's name, and look for the row called "Content type" -- it should say Academic/Scholarly, Trade, or Consumer (popular).

Magazines for Libraries / Reference Collection Z6941 .K2

Evaluating Your Potential Resources

Be sure to critically evaluate resources to decide whether to use them for your research assignment! While you are deciding on a topic and narrowing its focus, you may collect resources that you don't use in the end.

Below is the CRAAP test list of criteria for deciding whether a resource is information you should use, which I have borrowed (for educational purposes only) from Meriam Library @ California State University, Chico. Some of the criteria apply only to web sites, but others can be applied to any resource. When evaluating websites, methods linked from Evaluating Internet Resources may provide additional useful guidance in determining the source, scope, currency, accuracy and bias of a website.

Evaluation Criteria

Currency: The timeliness of the information.

  • When was the information published or posted?
  • Has the information been revised or updated?
  • Does your topic require current information, or will older sources work as well?
  • FOR WEB SITES: Are the links functional?

Relevance: The importance of the information for your needs.

  • Does the information relate to your topic or answer your question?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Is the information at an appropriate level (i.e. not too elementary or advanced for your needs)?
  • Have you looked at a variety of sources before determining this is one you will use?
  • Would you be comfortable citing this source in your research paper?

 Authority: The source of the information.

  • Who is the author/publisher/source/sponsor?
  • What are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations?
  • Is the author qualified to write on the topic?
  • Is there contact information, such as a publisher or email address?
  • FOR WEB SITES: Does the URL reveal anything about the author or source?  (examples: .com .edu .gov .org .net)

Accuracy: The reliability, truthfulness and correctness of the content.

  • Where does the information come from?
  • Is the information supported by evidence?
  • Has the information been reviewed or refereed?
  • Can you verify any of the information in another source or from personal knowledge?
  • Does the language or tone seem unbiased and free of emotion?
  • Are there spelling, grammar or typographical errors?

Purpose: The reason the information exists.

  • What is the purpose of the information? Is it to inform, teach, sell, entertain or persuade?
  • Do the authors/sponsors make their intentions or purpose clear?
  • Is the information fact, opinion or propaganda?
  • Does the point of view appear objective and impartial?
  • Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional or personal biases?

Print copies of this checklist may be made and distributed provided that 1) They are used for educational purposes only and 2) The content of the page is reproduced here almost in its entirety. For any other use or for permission to make electronic copies, please contact the authoring library.