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ENGC54 - Library Research Guide

A research guide for students in ENGC54: Gender and Genre

Scholarly vs. Popular Sources

Your instructors are also researchers and publish their work in scholarly journal articles.    How are scholarly articles different from popular (newspaper and magazine) articles?

scholarly vs. popular articles



*Created by McMaster University Libraries.   Retrieved from

What is a peer reviewed article?

Choose articles from literature journals

It is important to keep your sources and arguments focused on RESEARCH IN LITERARY STUDIES because you are currently studying in a literature course.

While literary scholars often engage in interdisciplinary research that involves research in areas, such as Psychology, History, Political Science, etc, as a general rule, it's best if you focus on citing literature from the subject you're studying rather than articles from other fields of study unless specifically directed to do otherwise by your instructor.

Here are a number of articles that mention and/or discuss the Canadian author Margaret Atwood. However, only the citation in bold is from a literary journal, and so the other articles might have a very different perspective on Atwood than a literary scholar would, and might not be part of the "scholarly conversation" carried out by experts in the field of literary studies.

Latimer, Heather. "Popular Culture and Reproductive Politics: Juno, Knocked Up and the Enduring Legacy of the Handmaid’s Tale." Feminist Theory, vol. 10, no. 2, 2009, pp. 211-226.

Beauchamp, Gorman. "The Politics of the Handmaid's Tale."Midwest Quarterly: A Journal of Contemporary Thought, vol. 51, no. 1, 2009, pp. 11-25.

Montelaro, Janet J. "Maternity and the Ideology of Sexual Difference in the Handmaid's Tale." Lit: Literature Interpretation Theory, vol. 6, no. 3-4, 1995, pp. 233-256.

Burridge, Terry. "Surfacing by Margaret Atwood: A Study in Borderlines." Psychodynamic Practice: Individuals, Groups and Organisations, vol. 21, no. 1, 2015, pp. 60-67.

To learn more about how published research functions as a conversation within the discipline that you're studying, and how you as a student take part, watch the following video:

Is Your Journal Article Peer-Reviewed?

How do you know if an article is from a peer-reviewed journal? Some databases allow you to limit your search to peer-reviewed journals. For other databases, you need to look up the title of the journal in Ulrich's Directory.

1. Go to Ulrich's:  Click to open Ulrich's.


2. Type the JOURNAL TITLE (not the article title) into the search box, and click the green search button.

 search ulrichs for journal title

3. In the search results, look for a referee jersey icon (like the shirt worn by a hockey referee) to indicate that a journal is refereed. Refereed means the same as peer reviewed.

look for referee jersey icon in search results


4. The Journal of Infectious Diseases IS peer reviewed.