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Cowles Library


FYS Toolkit: Scholarly vs. Popular

A collection of tools to use for FYS instruction.

Scholarly vs. Popular vs. Trade Periodicals

Scholarly Popular Trade
Publication itself
  • Title clearly identifies the subject
  • Often black & white
  • Matte paper
  • Few (or no) advertisements or photos
  • Scholarly, professional org., or university press
  • Published less frequently (monthly, quarterly)
  • Content is peer reviewed
  • Short, attention-grabbing title
  • Color
  • Glossy
  • Lots of advertisements and images
  • Commercial publisher
  • Published frequently (weekly, bi-weekly)
  • Content is not peer reviewed
  • Title usually identifies the trade
  • Color
  • Glossy
  • Some ads, usually trade-related
  • Published less frequently
  • Content is not peer reviewed
Articles (and Books/Chapters)
  Audience Scholars and students General audience Members of a specific business, industry, or organization
  • Scholars, researchers, or experts in the field of study.
  • Affiliation and/or credentials provided.
  • Usually aren't experts in the field of study.
  • Employed and/or paid by the publisher.
  • Credentials usually not listed.
  • Staff or contributing authors.
  • Credentials usually not listed.
  • Sources cited in bibliography and/or footnotes.
  • Can use references to extend your research.
  • Sources not cited (or cited informally).
  • Varies, but usually sources are not cited.
Report results of original research or experimentation.
Provide general information or entertainment.
Provide information about industry trends, news, products, or techniques.
  • Typically lengthy (articles: >5 pages)
  • Follows a structure (abstract, intro, literature review,
  • methods, results, discussion)
  • Usually has a narrow focus about a specific aspect of a topic.
  • Short (articles: <5 pages)
  • May present a broad overview of a topic, but little detail.
  • Short
  • Discusses a specific topic within a trade.