Popular or Scholarly Journals
Magazines and journals are called periodicals because they are issued on a regular or "periodic" basis. Periodicals are usually separated into two major groups: popular and scholarly. If you are able to recognize the differences between a popular and scholarly source, you can focus your research to retrieve only the type of information you need. The following pages will illustrate some of the differences between the two.
If your tutor says you need to find scholarly information for your paper, you should choose a journal rather than a popular magazine.
Journals are geared toward experts and researchers in the academic or professional community. An editorial board of respected scholars reviews all articles submitted to a journal. They decide if the article provides a noteworthy contribution to the field and should be published.
Magazines –The Economist, Newsweek, National Geographic, Readers Digest and The New Republic - are also good sources of information for your research paper or essay. They are geared towards readers who, although not experts, are knowledgeable about the issues presented. Articles in these sources are generally more in-depth but still fairly easy to understand.
Popular magazines like People, Women’s Own, Hello and Rolling Stone are probably not the best sources to use to find articles for research.
Researching involves following clues toward the resolution of a question. Research will help you make connections between information and ideas, as well as broaden your perspectives on the world. When your research is complete you should have enough quality information to make writing your paper easier.
Remember that it takes time to locate good information. If you are struggling to start your research, get help. The people who work at the Reference Desk in your library are experienced in selecting and evaluating reliable resources. Take advantage of their experience and ask them for assistance.
Copyright (c) 2005 by Susan Kelly, Wexford County Library Service.
Adapted and modified (5th December 2005) from TILT, Texas Information Literacy Tutorial. This material is subject to the terms and conditions set forth in the TILT Open Publication Licence. (the latest version is presently available at http://tilt.lib.utsystem.edu/yourtilt/).