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English Library Instruction: 11. Popular vs. Scholarly

Visualizing Peer-Review

From Scott White: 

I used to teach students about what makes an article scholarly.  I would talk about an expert writing an article and make a slash mark on the board representing the first review of an article. I would discuss with the class what the terms “scholarly article” and “peer review” mean, the review and editing process is what makes scholarly articles “more reliable”. When an author submits an article for publication they are agreeing that the article will be reviewed, and before the article will get published the editor of the journal will review the article, represented by another slash on the board. The editor will send out the article to three “peers’ of the author, resulting in three more reviews of the article, represented by three more slashes on the board. After reviewing the three reviewers send the article back to the editor resulting in another three slashes on the board. The editor then sends the article back to the author, resulting in another slash on the board. The author makes the corrections and sends the article back to the editor, resulting in another slash. This re” review process” results in the article getting published and increases its reliability. I make sure to define all of the terms in quotes, and then conduct a similar demonstration with a newspaper or magazine article.

The Information Cycle

From Ian McDermott: 


Popular v.s. Scholarly Module

Activity time: 15-20 min

Prep time: 15 min

Location: Computer Lab or Smart Classroom



Core Competencies

Authority Is Constructed and Contextual

Inquiry & Problem Solving

Information has Value

Integrative Learning


This module introduces students to the most frequently encountered sources in academic research: newspapers, popular magazines, and scholarly journals. Students will begin by discussing the differences between these sources, with an emphasis on the information cycle. Distinctions between author and audience for each publication is covered, too. The module ends with a guessing game where students are shown an excerpt of an article and guess what kind of publication it is from.


 Introduction to newspapers, popular magazines, and scholarly journals (5 min)

    1. Compare Rolling Stone, Journal of Management, NY Times

  1. Exercise: Distinguishing Popular and scholarly articles (10 min)

    1. Compare snippets from NYT, The Atlantic, & Scholarly journal; guess which one is which

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