Skip to Main Content

CAMS 4381: Communications Capstone

Scholarly, Popular and Trade Publications

Professors will often ask you to find articles that are scholarly.  What does that mean? Journal articles are usually "scholarly" while magazine articles are "popular".  Trade publications are specific publications that are targeted to people who work in specific industries for example: the advertising business.  

Criteria Scholarly Journal Popular Magazine Trade Publication
Sample Cover scholarly journal cover cover of popular magazine cover of trade publication
Sample First Page of Article first page of scholarly article First page of popular magazine article first page of article in trade journal
Title of Article "Gender, toys and learning" "The Truth About Boys and Girls" "Toy Story"
Title of Publication Oxford Review of Education Baby Talk Professional Engineering
Purpose of Publication "Articles and review articles on the theory and practice of education from scholars throughout the world in disciplines including philosophy, political science, economics, history, anthropology, sociology, psychology and medicine." "Publishes articles on a mix of news and advice on the challenges of new motherhood from experts and moms who "tell it like it is."" "Addresses the news & technology that impacts on the business & careers of professional engineers in all sectors of engineering & manufacturing."
Audience Scholars and researchers in the particular field of study.   General audience. People in the business
Authors Scholars and researchers (generally not paid).   Paid journalists, staff wirters and freelance writers.   Paid staff writers, professionals and vendors in the field.  
Editors Journal editors and peer reviewers. Staff editors. Staff editors.
Works Cited/References Almost always. Rarely. Sometimes.

Table adapted from a table created by NCSU Libraries.  

One Minute Tips: Scholarly vs. Popular Resources

This short video from Old Dominion University Libraries illustrates the differences between scholarly and popular sources.

Peer Reviewed Journals

What does it mean when a journal is peer reviewed?

Articles in a journal which is peer-reviewed go through a rigorous process in which the articles are reviewed by scholars and researchers (peers) in the field.   Before being accepted, these articles are often sent back to the authors for revisions.  For more information about the peer review process, please watch the video below.  

Are all scholarly journals peer-reviewed?

Most but not all scholarly journals are peer-reviewed.  

How do you know if a journal is peer-reviewed?

  1. Limit your search in databases to peer-reviewed journals only.  Some databases such as Academic Search Complete allow you to limit your searching to only peer-reviewed journals.  
  2. Go to the journal's official homepage online.  Usually in the About this Journal section, the journal will note whether or not it is peer-reviewed.  
  3. Ask your professor or a librarian to assist you in determining whether or not a journal is peer-reviewed.