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Scholarly, Peer Reviewed, & Popular Articles

Scholarly, Peer Reviewed & Popular Articles: What's the Difference?

Scholarly articles are written by an expert in the subject matter, are research focused, contain original research, and the audience is geared towards other experts. Scholarly articles are often, but not always, peer-reviewed.

Peer-reviewed articles are scholarly articles that also go through a rigorous review process by other experts in the same field before publication. How does the process work?

  • After conducting research (often but not always original research) an expert in a field writes an article and submits it to a journal for publication.
  • If the editor(s) believe the article is a good fit, the article is sent to other subject matter experts (in the author's field) who review it for quality indicators such as appropriate scientific methodologies, consideration of previous scholarship, logical conclusions, etc. To avoid bias, reviewers usually do not know the name of the article’s author.
  • Once the review process is complete, the article is returned to the journal editors (with feedback and recommendations for any changes) and either rejected or approved for publication in the journal (pending any required changes the editors require--based on the peer reviewed feedback).

Popular articles are articles that appear in magazines or newspapers, are not scholarly or peer-reviewed, and are written by journalists or staff members who are not subject matter experts. That is not to say that these types of articles are not credible, but they need do need to be evaluated for credibility more so than their counterparts. Examples:

  • New York Times and other newspapers
  • Newsweek
  • National Geographic
  • Psychology Today