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ENGL 1320: Writing for Social Change

Popular vs. Scholarly Articles

There are three different types of articles that often appear in the databases: Scholarly, Popular, and Trade. How do you know which one you are looking at? Use the table to help you!

Popular Trade Scholarly/Peer-reviewed
General public/average reader Practice-based advice for professionals working a specific field Focused on researchers and professional
Shorter length Short or medium length articles Long, in-depth articles
Few or no citations May contain some citations or further readings Extensive bibliographies
Issued weekly or monthly Issued weekly, monthly, or quarterly Issued quarterly or monthly
Author may not be listed or is probably not an expert Articles are written by practitioners working in the field; credentials may be listed Articles written by specialists with credentials listed
Very visual (includes photos and advertisements) Generally contain photos pertaining to the field or the article; may contain some advertisements Text-dense, little color, charts/tables, no or few advertisements
Reviewed by the publisher or editor Reviewed by the publisher or editor Reviewed by independent editorial board


Academic Article Checklist

Need a quick way to determine if an article is peer-reviewed or not? Use this checklist:



Is the source written by a researcher or academic?


Is the source published in a scholarly publication (journal or book)?


Does the source have an extensive bibliography?

  Is the source approximately 6 pages or more?