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MU 182B Emotion and Meaning in Music: Scholarly vs. Popular

Evaluating Periodical Articles

Scholarly Articles have:

  • Bibliography, footnotes, or endnotes. This provides evidence of the research that was conducted to produce the article.
  • Written by expert(s) in the field. Usually there is information that describes the author’s credentials and current position.
  • Published by Associations, Research Institutes, University Presses.
  • “Peer reviewed.” Refers to the policy of experts in the field examining journal articles before acceptance for publication.
  • Written in the jargon of the field for scholarly readers (professors, researchers or students.)
  • Illustrations that support the text, such as tables of statistics, graphs, maps, or photographs

Popular Magazines on the other hand:

  • No footnotes or references.
  • Written by journalists who are usually not experts in the field.
  • Easy to read. Intended for lay audience. Informative and entertaining.
  • Short articles.
  • Many advertisements throughout the magazine.
  • Glossy, slick. Illustrated with graphics and photos.
  • Unsigned articles.

These criteria apply to all periodicals (online or print).

Scholarly v. Popular

Video produced by Wayne State University Libraries.


Consult a variety of fields related to your topic.

Pay attention to biases in your sources!

Remember to distinguish between scholarly (peer-reviewed) and popular articles.

While it is often appropriate for background information and starting research, keep in mind what Wikipedia founder Jimmie Wales said:
   “For God sake, you’re in college; don’t cite the encyclopedia.”

More Information:  See Tutt Library's Scholarly vs. Popular page.