Characteristics of Popular, Scholarly, and Trade Sources
An important part of gathering and evaluating sources for research projects is knowing the difference between popular, scholarly, and trade publications.
The physical appearance of print sources can help you identify the type of source as well. Popular magazines and trade publications are usually glossy with many photos. Scholarly journals are usually smaller and thicker with plain covers and images, In electronic sources you can check for bibliographies and author credentials or affiliations as potential indicators of scholarly sources.
|Popular Magazines||Scholarly (including peer-reviewed)||Trade Publications|
Current events; general interest articles
Research results/reports; reviews of research (review articles); book reviews
|Articles about a certain business or industry|
|Purpose||To inform, entertain, or elicit an emotional response||To share research or scholarship with the academic community||To inform about business or industry news, trends, or products|
|Author||Staff writers, journalists, freelancers||Scholars/researchers||Staff writers, business/industry professionals|
|Audience||General public||Scholars, researchers, students||Business/industry professionals|
|Review||Staff editor||Editorial board made up of other scholars and researchers. Some articles are peer-reviewed||Staff editor|
|Citations||May not have citations, or may be informal (ex. according to... or links)||Bibliographies, references, endnotes, footnotes||Few, may or may not have any|
|Frequency||Weekly/monthly||Quarterly or semi-annually||Weekly/monthly|
Numerous ads for a variety of products
|Minimal, usually only scholarly products like books||Ads are for products geared toward specific industry|
|Examples in Library Databases||Time; Rolling Stone; New Yorker||Journal of Food Safety; Journal of Food Science||Food and Beverage Industry News|