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Distinguishing Among Scholarly, Popular, and Trade Publications


Publications exist in wide variety. And, when you print them out, they all seem to look the same. Here are some clues to help you figure out what types of document you have among your printouts.
Also, take some time to consider, what type of documents do you need based on your information needs.
What types of resources do your teachers expect you to cite?


Popular
Scholarly
Trade
Primary Source
Type of source
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Length and appearance of articles
Shorter, overview-type articles. Popular style.Glossy format. Attractive covers. Lots of photographs.
Does not usually include abstract or citation list.
Includes many advertisements aimed at a general audience.
Purpose of the articles is to entertain the reader.
Lengthy, in depth. Often includes tables, graphs, statistics.Serious appearance, not heavily graphic.
Generally includes abstract and citation list.
Advertisements aimed at the scholarly audience.
Purpose of the articles is usually to present original research or experiments.
Glossy format, similar to popular magazines. Information designed to be attractive and useful to members of an industry.Advertising appeals to those in the business. Frequently includes lots of advertising.
Purpose of the articles is to offer advice to others in the field.
Can be text or other media format. Examples of primary sources are speeches, letters, songs, legislation, court decisions, government documents, blogs, journals/diaries, interviews, artifacts, political cartoons, autobiographies, and photographs. These may appear independently or may be embedded in other documents.
Authorship/Editorial
Reporters, staff writers. Credentials not usually included. Reviewed by the editorial staff, not subject experts.Articles are sometimes unsigned.
Usually published by a commercial publisher.
Scholars, experts. Credentials always included.Peer reviewed, refereed or juried: critically evaluated by a knowledge panel of experts.
Usually published by university press.
Articles generally written by practitioners or staff writers. Articles are sometimes unsigned.
First hand evidence, created by someone who was a witness to the event. Look for bias.
Title
Often included the word magazine.
Includes words like: review, journal, research, quarterly, studies, transactions, proceedings, archives.
Titles vary. The may say, magazine of/for the industry / professional . .May include the word trends
Titles vary.
Language
Non-technical, accessible by broad audience
Technical, likely to include the jargon of the field. Assumes some background knowledge.
Likely to include the jargon of the field. Assumes some background knowledge from the reader.
Language of the speaker, the organization, the place, the time.
Article structure
No specific structure.
Traditional structure usually requires: abstract, literature review, methodology, results, conclusion, references
No specific structure.
Structure varies by document type.
Frequency
Published daily, weekly or monthly.
Published bi-monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, or annually.
Frequency varies.
Not applicable