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Nursing 240: Foundations of Nursing Practice: Scholarly v. Popular Sources

Understanding nursing literature

Two types of journals

Trade Journals
  • American Journal of Nursing
  • Nursing Outlook
  • RN Magazine
News, developments, clinical practice, career information
Research Journals
  • Nursing Research
  • Western Journal of Nursing Research
  • Journal of Pediatric Nursing
Formal articles, research reports for those in the nursing profession

Keep in mind that not all information in a research journal is scholarly.  Many scholarly journals have opinion pieces and/or letters to the editor written in them in addition to research articles.

Scholarly v. Popular - Broad overview

A Guide to the Differences Between Publications. Originally published by: Gutnam Library, Philadelphia College of Textiles and Sciences. Modified with permission.cholarly Journal

ElementScholarly JournalNews/
General Interest
Popular MagazinesSensational Publications
Format Has grave, serious format Attractive in appearance Generally slick/glossy with an attractive format Cheap newspaper format
Graphics Graphs and charts to illustrate concepts Photos, graphics and illustrations used to enhance articles  Photos, illustrations and drawing to enhance image of publication Contains melodramatic, lurid or "doctored" photos 
Sources Cited sources with footnotes and/or bibliography  Occasionally cite sources, but not as a rule  Rarely cite sources. Original sources may be obscure  Rarely cite sources of information
Authors Written by scholars or researchers in the field or discipline Written for an educated, general audience by staff, free-lance or scholarly writers Written by the staff or free-lance writers for a broad audience Written by free-lance or staff writers
Language Uses terminology, jargon, and the language of the discipline. Reader is assumed to have similar background Uses language appropriate for an educated readership Uses simple language for minimal educational level. Articles are short, with little depth  Contains language that is simple, easy-to-read and understand. Sensational style is often used 
Publication Criteria Subject to "peer review". Must meet approval of qualified scholars in the field  Must meet standards of publication and be approved by editors  No specific criteria  No specific criteria 
Purpose To inform, report, or make original research available to the scholarly world  Provide general information to a wide, interested audience Designed to entertain or persuade, to sell products or services Arouse curiosity and interest by distorting the truth. Often uses outrageous or startling headlines
Publishers Generally published by a professional organization Published by commercial enterprises for profit Published for profit  Published for profit 
Advertising Contains selective advertising Carries advertising Contains extensive advertising Contains advertising as luring and startling as the stories
Examples Annals of Microbiology, Harvard Business Review, Journal of Physiology, Physics Letters Atlantic Monthly, Newsweek, Fortune, Psychology Today, Scientific American Better Homes and Gardens, GQ, Glamour, People, Sports Illustrated Globe, National Enquirer, National Examiner, Star, Sun

Accessing Nursing Literature

Excellence. Our Measure. Our Motto. Our Goal.