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Criminology and Sociolegal Studies

Characteristics of Scholarly Journal Articles

Scholarly journal articles are written by academics or experts in the field and are usually (but not always) published in peer-reviewed, or refereed, journals.  

For your assignments, you will be required to use scholarly resources.  Since many disciplines also feature popular and trade publications, you will need to know how to distinguish scholarly journals from these other types of publications.  Below is a chart, detailing some of the characteristics of each type of journal. 

Scholarly/Professional Journals Popular Magazines (and Newspapers) Trade Publications
Content
  • in-depth research articles
  • often peer-reviewed
  • usually includes an abstract
  • describes and presents hypothesis, methodology and results of research
  • articles have specific section headings, such as literature, review, methodology, results, conclusion, discussion/further study
  • news and current events
  • quick facts
  • short interviews
  • brief book reviews

  • news and developments of interest to practitioners
  • product reviews
  • brief book reviews

Purpose
  • to provide information about, report, or present original research or experiments
  • to entertain, inform, sell
  • to present a point of view/persuade general public
  • to provide general information

  • to provide news or information to practitioners in an industry or trade
Authors
  • an academic, researcher, or expert on the topic of the article
  • will include name, position, and institution
  • staff writer
  • paid journalist, freelancer, feature writer (sometimes anonymous) with no particular background or expertise in the subject

  • staff writers
  • trade practitioners
  • sometimes anonymous
Audience
  • professors
  • researchers
  • students
  • members of association
  • other professionals in the field
  • general public
  • practitioners
  • those with an interest in the industry or trade

Publisher
  • university press
  • professional association
  • scholarly publisher
  • typically commercial      
  • typically commercial
Writing Style
  • formal or semiformal, scholarly language
  • may use technical or specialized language
  • usually concise
  • casual, informal style, with little jargon and few technical terms
  • written for the general public
  • informal
  • may use technical or specialized language
Documentation
  • footnotes or endnotes
  • bibliography
  • suggested resources for more information
  • sources often not cited
  • seldom includes footnotes or bibliography

  • sometimes a brief bibliography or suggested sources
Illustrations/Graphics
  • may include tables, graphs, charts, or equations to support the research

  • often includes glossy photographs, ads, images
  • may include images, graphs, or charts
Examples
  • Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice
  • Criminology
  • Journal of Quantitative Criminology
  • The Arrest Report
  • Toronto Star
  • Globe and Mail,
  • National Post
  • Security Magazine
  • Corrections Today
  • Canadian Lawyer
  • Police Chief

Credits:  adapted from the following research guides:  WRI375, GGR107, SOCD31, INI235

Scholarly vs. Popular