ENGT120: Engineering Technology First Year Innovation Experience: Scholarly vs. Non-Scholarly

This guide supplements instruction provided in class.

Distinguishing Scholarly vs. Non-Scholarly Periodicals

Learn to identify the distinguishing features of scholarly and non-scholarly publications.

Scholarly Journals

Journals and magazines are important sources for up-to-date information for all subject areas. Access to the large and varied journal collection through RIT Library requires the ability to distinguish between the levels of scholarship found both in the print and electronic publications. For the purpose of this guide, types of periodicals have been divided into four separate categories: Scholarly; Substantive News or General Interest; Popular; and Sensational.

Scholarly Periodicals

  • Scholarly journals generally have a serious look. They often contain numerous charts and graphs. They typically do not have glossy pages.
  • Scholarly journals always cite their sources in either footnotes or bibliographies
  • Articles are written by scholars within specific disciplines.
  • The language used is specific to the discipline covered. It assumes some discipline knowledge on the part of the reader.
  • The primary purpose is to report on original research, making it available to the rest of the scholars within the discipline.
  • Many are published by professional associations or universities


         Examples of Scholarly Journals:


American Economic Review

JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association

Journal of Social Work Education

Journal of Labor Research

Non-Scholarly Periodicals

Substantive News or General Interest

  • These may be appealing in appearance. Articles often have numerous photographs.
  • News and general interest periodicals may or may not cite sources used in articles.
  • Articles may be written by a variety of staff members, scholars or free lance writers.
  • The language is geared to interested audiences. No discipline knowledge is assumed.
  • These periodicals are generally produced by commercial publishers.
  • The primary purpose of these periodicals is to provide information to a broad audience.
Examples of Substantive News or General Interest Periodicals


National Geographic

Scientific American


Popular Periodicals

  • Popular periodicals are published in many formats. They tend to be slick with lots of graphics including photographs, and drawing.
  • These publications rarely cite sources of information. Information frequently is second or third hand.
  • Articles tend to be very short with little depth of content and typically written in simple language.
  • Articles are written by staff members or free-lance writers.
  • The primary purpose of popular periodicals is entertainment, selling products, and/or promotion of a particular viewpoint.
Examples of Popular Periodicals

Sports Illustrated


Good Housekeeping



  • Sensational periodicals often are published in a newspaper format.
  • The language used is simple and often sensational. Gullibility of the reader is assumed.
  • The primary purpose of these periodicals is to increase curiosity typically through headlines designed to astonish.
Examples of Sensational Periodicals


National Inquirer


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