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Scholarly vs. Popular Resources: Find Scholarly Articles

In BenSearch

BenSearch (the Everything search box) makes it easy to limit your search to peer reviewed or scholarly sources.

After you launch your BenSearch, look on the left side of your results screen for the list of filters.  Beneath "Availability", click Peer-reviewed Journals.  Beneath "Resource Type, click Articles.  To keep  filters in place for the duration of your session.Limit to Peer Reviewed


In Individual Databases

You can limit your searches to peer reviewed and scholarly articles in many of the library's individual databases, too.


  • Other databases, like PsycARTICLES, ScienceDirect, JSTOR, Wiley, and Sage Journals automatically search only peer-reviewed journals -- so all you have to do is start searching.


Scholarly vs Popular: what to look for when you must decide on your own.

  Scholarly Popular
Length Longer articles, providing in-depth analysis of topics Shorter articles, providing broader overviews of topics
Authorship Author usually an expert or specialist in the field; name and credentials always provided Author usually a staff writer or a journalist, name and credentials often not provided
Language/Audience Written in the jargon of the field for scholarly readers, professors, researchers or students Written in non-technical language for anyone to understand
Format/Structure Articles usually structured, may include: abstract, literature review, methodology, results, conclusion, bibliography Articles do not necessarily follow a specific format or structure
Special Features Illustrations that support the text, such as tables of statistics, graphs, maps, or photographs Illustrations with glossy or color photographs, usually for advertising purposes
Editors Articles usually reviewed and critically evaluated by a board of experts in the field (refereed or peer reviewed) Articles are not evaluated by experts in the field, but by editors on staff
Credits A bibliography (works cited) and/or footnotes always provided to document research A bibliography (works cited) is usually not provided, although names of reports or references may be mentioned in the text


Remember: Not everything published in an academic journal is considered scholarly.  Academic journals contain book reviews and opinion pieces such as letters and editorials. These items do not go through the jury process that the articles do.

It is also important to understand that just because something is "Popular" does not mean that it will always be unacceptable for your work.  Use your best judgment and, when in doubt, ask your instructor.

Trade Journals

Trade journals may be appropriate for some types of academic work, especially for Business students.  However, they are not scholarly works.  Typically, trade journals provide practical industry information, use industry jargon, and are specific to a particular industry.  Some examples of trade journals are: Architectural Review, Planning, Building Stone Magazine, etc.


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