For some assignments, your instructor may require you to locate information in scholarly research journals, but how can you easily know the differences between a scholarly journal and a popular magazine? This sort of basic evaluation is a necessary part of the research process, and a means for you to sharpen your critical thinking skills.
Some of the ways that a research journal typically differs from a popular magazine are:
Scholarly journal articles will indicate authors and their academic credentials; popular magazines may not always list the author.
Scholarly journal articles will include footnotes, endnotes, bibliographies, or reference lists; popular magazine articles very rarely do this.
Scholarly journal articles focus on research; popular magazines focus on current events & topics of general interest, and include lots of ads for consumer products.
Scholarly journal articles are reviewed and fully critiqued by subject experts for research accuracy & importance before being published; popular magazines are not as rigorous.
POINT OF SALE
Where you find publications for sale is a clue. It may be difficult to locate scholarly journals at all outside of research libraries; popular magazines are usually much easier to find.
Scholarly journals are usually published two or four times a year; popular magazines may be published daily, weekly, or monthly.
Here is a handout you can print about the differences between scholarly and popular works.