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CAMS 4331: Communication Theory

Scholarly, Trade and Popular 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 Trade Publication Popular Magazine
Sample Cover scholarly journal cover cover of trade publication cover of popular magazine
Sample First Page of Article first page of scholarly article first page of article in trade journal First page of popular magazine article
Title of Article "Gender, toys and learning" "Toy Story" "The Truth About Boys and Girls"
Title of Publication Oxford Review of Education Professional Engineering Baby Talk
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." "Addresses the news & technology that impacts on the business & careers of professional engineers in all sectors of engineering & manufacturing." "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.""
Audience Scholars and researchers in the particular field of study.   People in the business General audience.
Authors Scholars and researchers (generally not paid).   Paid staff writers, professionals and vendors in the field.   Paid journalists, staff writers and freelance writers.  
Editors Journal editors and peer reviewers. Staff editors. Staff editors.
Works Cited/References Almost always. Sometimes. Rarely.

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.