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Library Research Guides

SOC 100: Introduction to Sociology

A course guide for Soc 100, taught in Winter 2018 by Prof. Terence McGinn.

Characteristics of Scholarly vs. Non-Scholarly ("Popular") Sources


Journal - Scholarly

Magazine - Popular



-Empirical: Detailed report of an original research study

-Review: Summary/synthesis of many studies on a topic

-Theoretical: based on the intellectual tradition of a scholarly discipline

Secondary report or discussion may include personal narrative, opinion, anecdotes.


Author's credentials are given, usually a scholar with subject expertise. Author may or may not be named; often a professional writer; may or may not have subject expertise.


Scholars, researchers, students. General public; the interested non-specialist.


Specialized terminology or jargon of the field; requires prior knowledge. Vocabulary in general usage; understandable to most readers.



Required. All quotes and facts can be verified. Scanty, if any, information about sources. May mention names of experts in text, but no bibliography.

Publication Process

Editorial oversight and peer-reviewed.
May be lengthy time period between submission and publication.
Usually limited to some editorial oversight. 
Often quick publication time frames.


American Sociological Review; Social Forces‚Äč
Almost anything with Journal in the title. Usually come with memberships in scholarly societies and are only available in libraries.
Psychology TodayDiscover, news magazines. Almost anything available in a store.

Peer Review in 3 Minutes

How do articles get peer reviewed? What role does peer review play in scholarly research and publication? This video will explain.

Credit: North Caroline State University Libraries