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Library Research Guides

SOC 102-020: Introduction to Sociology: Special Topics

Race, Ethnicity, and Social Inclusion in the Contemporary World - Fall 2017

What is an Academic Article?

From the course syllabus and assignment guidelines:

Academic articles include peer reviewed journal articles as well as articles from “Quality and Opinion Magazines” that support their argument with evidence, rather than opinion. Each article must be a minimum of 15 pages long following normal font conventions (i.e., the equivalent of Times New Roman 12-point font).

Peer-reviewed journal articles

Peer-reviewed journal articles are also known as scholarly journal articles. They report on research-based scholarship. They have full citations and bibliographies.

Examples of scholarly journals that publish peer-reviewed articles include:

For an explanation of the peer review process, watch the short video: Peer Review in Three Minutes.

Quality and Opinion Magazines

"Quality and Opinion" magazines are popular source with academic-level content. They are geared towards an educated readership. Articles are generally of substantial length and may offer social commentary and opinion in addition to straight reporting. These articles will often reference experts but generally do not include formal citations and bibliographies. These types of sources may be considered as long-form journalism with articles may be authored by journalists, or may provide popular summaries of research and commentary by area experts.

Examples of Quality and Opinion magazines include:

  • American Scholar
  • The Atlantic
  • The Economist
  • Harper’s
  • The New Yorker
  • New York Times Magazine
  • The Progressive
  • The Wilson Quarterly
  • Commentary
  • Foreign Affairs
  • The Nation
  • The National Review
  • The New Republic
  • Utne Reader
  • London Review of Books

For further information see: Sterling, C. (2009). Quality and opinion magazines. In C. H. Sterling Encyclopedia of journalism (pp. 1178-1177). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications Ltd.

Note: You may also find online only publications that meet the same criteria as the print-based publications listed here.

Book chapters

Book chapters can also count as an academic article.

Whereas a scholarly journal article reports on just one study or aspect of a topic, books are used to frame and develop a topic area more fully.

Books come in multiple shapes and sizes:

  • Edited Books contain a series of chapters each by a different author. Their purpose is to cohesively unite multiple perspectives on a topic. A single chapter will stand on it’s own (similar to a scholarly journal article) and can be used and cited without reading the entire book.
  • Books on a single subject provide a comprehensive exploration of a topic by a single author or set of co-authors. This is the traditional concept of a book. You may also be able to use and cite a single chapter without reading the entire book, although some context may be lost.

Books also have different levels of quality and may be scholarly or popular, or somewhere in-between (like the content found in "Quality and Opinion" magazines).

Scholarly vs. Popular Articles

  Scholarly Popular

-Empirical: Detailed report of an original research study

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

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.

Rare. Scanty, if any, information about sources. May provide brief in-text mentions of sources.


American Sociological Review; Social Forces
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.