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Comm101: Intro to Communication Studies 2021: Scholarly vs. Popular Articles

Scholarly Journals in Communication: Online

We have dozens upon dozens of scholarly communication journals online. To help identify articles from these publications in Communication & Mass Media:

Limit your search to Scholarly (Peer-Reviewed) Journals

  • This is not 100% effective. Trade journal articles sometimes are still included in results, as are editorials and book reviews from scholarly journals.

Carefully review your articles

  • Is there a bibliography?
  • Is the article long (more than a couple pages in length)?
  • Does the article have an abstract at the top (when looking at the PDF)?
  • Is the article discussing original research, or is it recapping an event or reviewing a book or some other form of material?

Still unsure? ASK!

Scholarly or Popular?

There are many different types of publications, ranging from scholarly journals to trade publications to general magazines and newspapers. How can you tell the difference?



Scholarly journal

Trade/professional pub

Popular magazine


Plain cover/plain paper; black/white graphics and illustrations

Cover may depict industry setting; glossy; color

Eye-catching cover; glossy; pics and illustrations in color


Research projects, methodology, and theory

Industry trends, products or techniques, organizational news

Personalities, news, opinions, general interest


Academic or professional; professors, researchers, students

Members of specific business, industry, or organization

General public

Peer reviewed?*






Maybe – sometimes have short bibliographies



Few or none

Moderate – most will be trade-related






Writing style

Specialized vocabulary or jargon; may require training or subject expertise to understand

Specialized vocabulary or jargon; may require training or subject expertise to understand

Vocabulary that can be understood by general public


Communication Research

Journal of Communication

Journalism History

Advertising Age

Columbia Journalism Review

Editor & Publisher


Sports Illustrated

Vanity Fair



*On Peer Review: Peer reviewed articles (also sometimes called refereed articles or scholarly articles) require that experts in the field must first examine the article before it is accepted for publication. This ensures that the research is sound and of high quality.

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