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Psychological Science


Popular Publication:



Professional Journals / Substantive Publication:

Teacher Magazine


Scholarly / Peer Reviewed Publication

Journal of Cognitive Education and Psychology

Assessing Sources


There are three major types of publications, although there is grey area between the three designations. They are:


Popular Publications These publications are written for a general audience. Topics covered are current events, entertainment, and other issues. Articles are usually written by journalists or freelance writers. Articles do not include references to sources used. Most newspapers are popular publications.

Example: Burlington Free Press

Example: Time


Substantive Publications & Professional Journals

Substantive Publications offer somewhat more in depth coverage of news and current events/issues than popular titles. Often they are devoted to a particular topic. These publications are targeted at people who have no specialized training in an area but who want more analysis than a popular publication can offer. The authors are a mix of journalists and people who work in a field. Professional Journals are publications that are written for practitioners in a field.

Example: Scientific American


Professional Journals or "Trade Publications" are written for a specific audience or field.  They do NOT publish original peer-reviewed research, although they will often refer to original research and scholarship from scholarly publication.  Phrases like "Researchers have found ...."  or "in a recent study....." generally introduce the scholarship published elsewhere.

Example:  Education Week


Scholarly Publications (also known as refereed or peer-reviewed)

In depth research for a research or academic audience. Authors are researchers or scholars in the discipline. These articles usually include a discussion of the research methods, data, and full references to sources (footnotes). Articles are written for other researchers, scholars, and students specializing in the field. Usually the topics covered are very specialized.

Example: Sex Roles

Example: Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal


Note: Each of these types of publications has their place. For example you might consult a popular publication to see for yourself how the popular media covers a certain topic (for example, “how is Japanese youth culture today different than 20 years ago”) You would then use a scholarly publication to see how scholars have conducted research on this same topic and what conclusions their research has led them to.

Evaluating the Information Useful questions to ask yourself when evaluating sources of information (be they print or electronic):

• Who is the intended audience?

• What authority does the author have to write on the topic covered? Is the author a freelance writer? A practitioner? A scholar?

• What is the point of view of the author (or of the publication as a whole)?

• Who is the producer of the material (and why are they publishing this information?)

• Does the type of information provided meet my research needs?