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InfoPower

The research skills tutorial

In your assignments, professors will often ask you to use scholarly instead of popular, mainstream resources. When using OneSearch, you will find both. So what's the difference? Here are some characteristics to look for: 

Scholarly

Mainstream

Articles presenting original research or events related to a specific discipline

 

Photo of academic journal

Articles about current events and popular culture, opinion pieces, fiction, self-help tips

Cover of Psychology Today magazine

Who Writes It?
Professors, researchers, or professionals; credentials are usually stated in article

Photo of popular culture academic journal

Who Writes It?
Staff writers or free-lancers; names or credentials often not stated 

 

Cover of Rolling Stone magazine

Who Reads It?
Scholars (professors, researchers, students) knowledgeable about a specific discipline

Cover of Harvard Business Review

Who Reads It?
General public

 

Cover of Business Week magazine

What's In It?
​Mostly text supported by black and white figures, graphs, tables, or charts; few advertisements

The Lancet journal cover

What's In It?
Glossy, color photographs, easy-to-read layout, plenty of advertising
 

Television magazine cover

  • Articles are usually critically evaluated by experts before they can be published (peer-reviewed)
  • Footnotes or bibliographies support research and point to further research on a topic
  • Authors describe methodology and supply data used to support research results
  • Articles often use technical jargon and can be difficult for non-specialists to read
  • Scholarly journals are expensive and may not be as readily available
  • Research and review process take time; not as useful for current events or popular culture
  • Written for non-specialists
  • Timely coverage of popular topics and current events
  • Provide broad overview of topics
  • Good source for topics related to popular culture
  • Articles are selected by editors who may know very little about a topic
  • Authors usually do not cite sources
  • Published to make a profit; the line between informing and selling may be blurred