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Society and Religion: Scholarly vs. Popular

This guide provides a list of major library resources for the study of sociology of religion at Moorpark College

When do I use a peer-reviewed journal?

Use a peer-reviewed journal

--to find literature review on your topic
--to find original research on a particular  topic
--to look for case studies
--to look for empirical research
--to find bibliographies that point to other relevant research


Here, you're not only looking for scholarly journals, but for journals in which a panel of of experts/peers in the field reviews articles to decide whether they should be accepted for publication. Articles selected by this process are considered "peer-reviewed," or "refereed."

Note: Remember that editorial opinion pieces, book reviews, news articles are not peer-reviewed pieces even if they are a part of a peer-reviewed journal. Be sure to carefully evaluate each article.

Scholarly vs. Popular Periodicals

Difference between scholarly journals and popular magazines

Scholarly    Popular & General Interest
General Appearance Serious appearance; may contain graphs, charts, statistics, few pictures, known as "Peer-Reviewed" or "Refereed" or "Academic" Attractive in appearance, heavily illustrated with photos and ads
Writers of Articles Articles written by scholars and researchers in the field. Before publication, articles are reviewed and approved by subject specialists Usually free-lance or staff writers
Audience College students, faculty, scholars, or researchers General public
Purpose To report on original research or experimentation To provide information, news or to entertain the reader; also may be aimed to sell products or promote a particular point of view
Documentation Always cites sources and may include endnotes or a Works Cited page Sometimes cite their sources
Publisher Often a university, a research institution, or a professional organization Commercial enterprises or individuals
Examples Journal of Marriage and Family, American Historical Review, Social Problems, New England Journal of Medicine Ebony, Men's Journal, Good Housekeeping, People, Sports Illustrated,