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Instructors may require you to use scholarly journals (as opposed to popular magazines*) for your research assignments. These journals, which exist in all academic disciplines, publish reports of original research by scholars in their respective fields. Article databases allow you to limit your searches to scholarly publications, but learning the cues below will help you evaluate any source, anywhere.
|Author/s: academics or subject experts||Author/s: journalists, usually not specialists|
|Author info: academic credentials, university affiliations||Author info: little to none provided|
|Audience: specialized||Audience: general|
|Purpose: to report original research||Purpose: to entertain or provide general information|
|References: included||References: none|
|Structure: abstract, methodology, etc.||Structure: no standard structure|
|Articles: long, detailed||Articles: shorter, often superficial level of detail|
|Language: formal, technical||Language: simple, colloquial|
|Ads: none or very few||Ads: many|
|Editorial process: rigorous (may be "peer reviewed" or "refereed")||Editorial process: briefer (copy-editing and, ideally, fact-checking)|
* A third category, trade journals, are written for people working in a specific industry. Like scholarly journals, they target a specific audience and use specialized or technical language. Like popular periodicals, they usually don't undergo a peer-review process or include citations.
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