Skip to Main Content

Distinguishing Scholarly from Non-Scholarly Periodicals: Introduction
 and Definitions


Journals, magazines, and newspapers are important sources for up-to-date information in all disciplines.

With a collection as large and diverse as Wright State's it is often difficult to distinguish between the various levels of scholarship found in the collection.

In this guide we have divided the criteria for evaluating periodical literature into four categories:

  • Scholarly
  • News and General Interest 
  • Popular
  • Sensational and Tabloid

Click on the green tabs above to learn about each type of periodical.


Scholarly or peer-reviewed journal articles are written by scholars or professionals who are experts in their fields. In the sciences and social sciences, they often publish research results.

Substantive news articles are reliable sources of information on events and issues of public concern.

Popular articles reflect the tastes of the general public and are often meant as entertainment.

Sensational and tabloid articles intend to arouse strong curiosity, interest, or reaction. They do not follow the standards of journalistic ethics. They are not factually accurate.

Keeping these definitions in mind, and realizing that none of the lines drawn between types of journals can ever be totally clear cut, lists of more specific descriptive criteria follow on the next pages.

Permissions Information

This guide is used with permission from Research & Learning Services, Olin Library, Cornell University Library, Ithaca, NY, USA. Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

Reference Help

Profile Photo
Joanna Anderson
Dunbar Library 120
(937) 775-3840