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Evaluating Sources: Evaluating Articles

Evaluating Articles

Magazines, journals, scholarly, popular, peer-reviewed...??  If you've ever run across any or a combination of these terms and needed clarification on their distinct meanings, this page aims to provide it.


Scholarly Journals

Trade Journals

Popular Magazines



Social Psychology Quarterly

Advertising Age


New York Times


Primary account of original research; In-depth analyses of issues in the field; Articles often include abstract, method, discussion, tables, conclusion, and references

Current news, trends, or products in an industry or professional organization; Statistics, forecasts, employment and career information

Current events and news; General information with purpose to entertain or inform; Analyses of popular culture; Secondary account of someone else's research that may include opinion

Current events and news that may be local, regional, national or international; Ads, editorials, speeches; Primary source for information on events


Academic, technical jargon that uses the language of the discipline; Requires some relevant expertise

Specialized jargon or terminology of the field; Written for practitioners/professionals

Easily understandable, non-technical language; Written for the layperson

Written for a general audience; Understandable language


Researchers, scholars, professors, etc.

Practitioners in the field, industry professionals, or journalists with subject expertise

Journalists or staff writers

Journalists or staff writers


References, footnotes or bibliographies are always included

References in text or short bibliographies are occasionally included

References are rarely included

Rarely cite sources in full


Journal's editorial board, or if peer-reviewed, external scholars in the same field

Work for the publisher

Work for the publisher

Work for the publisher


Universities, scholarly presses, or academic organizations

Commercial publishers or trade and professional organizations

Commercial publishers

Commercial publishers

Example Databases

Academic Search Premier, JSTOR, Sociological Abstracts, Historical Abstracts

ABI Inform, Business Source Premier, ERIC, SPORTDiscus

Readers Guide Abstracts, Academic OneFile, Academic Search Premier

LexisNexis Academic, Access World News, Library Press Display


Peer-reviewed journal articles vs. scholarly journal articles
Not all scholarly journal articles are peer-reviewed. However, all peer-reviewed articles (aka refereed articles) are scholarly.

What is peer-review?
Peer-review refers to the rigorous process that articles undergo before they may be published.  Other scholars in the author's field or discipline review and evaluate the article for quality and validity.  If lacking, the article may be rejected, but otherwise, the article is accepted, often with suggestions for revision.