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Scholarly or Popular Articles


Academic / Scholarly / Peer-reviewed

Popular / Trade



Journalist / Professional Writer


Reviewed by other experts (peers)

Reviewed by an editor

Audience / Language

Scholars and students

General public / trade professionals


Original research; uses previously published literature for background

News and practical information; uses a variety of sources for background

Sources Cited?



You can identify an academic / scholarly / peer-reviewed source by:

  1. Published in a peer-reviewed journal or by a reputable publisher
  2. Academic or scholarly language
  3. Includes reference list
  4. Author’s credentials
  5. Reports the results of some kind of research or study

If you are unsure whether an article is scholarly or not, try this:

  1. Google the journal title - look for the terms peer-reviewed or refereed on the home page, the about page, or the instructions for authors page.
  2. Google the author's name - what are his/her credentials? Where does he/she work?
  3. Ask at the library info desk.

Challenges: Evaluating Sources

A. Are the following articles scholarly or popular?

  1. Iridology
  2. Modality of the Month: Herbal Medicine, Iridology, Kinesiology; The Eye as a Diagnostic Aid
  3. Can Iridology Detect Susceptibility to Cancer?
  4. How Vertebrae Mis-Alignments Can be Seen in the Iris: Case Study
  5. Psoriasis and Iridology

B. In pairs, skim--don't read--the following articles and:


   (1) Decide which ones are scholarly. Why or why not?


   (2) Which ones are appropriate for this assignment?

[Hint: for this assignment you will be looking for Review Articles and reliable websites]

         a) Clinical effectiveness of garlic (Allium sativum)


         b) The best defense


         c) Vitamin D and the cure for the common cold


         d) The prophylactic and therapeutic effectiveness of zinc sulphate on common cold in children


         e) For cold virus, zinc may edge out even chicken soup



Comparison of Scholarly Sources

Scientific and Popular Publishing Cycles