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Scholarly Press vs. Popular Press
Many students have difficulty understanding why scholarly articles are essential to academic research. The following assignments help students understand how the scholarly press differs from the mainstream press and how to search for academic and popular articles.
1. Compare and contrast discussions of the same topic in a popular magazine and a scholarly journal on the criteria of content, style, bias, audience, etc.
2. Analyze the content, tone, style, and audience of three journals associated with a specific discipline.
3. Select a periodical database and locate two articles that deal with a specific topic. One article must be a scholarly treatment and the other a popular treatment.
4. Select a periodical database and locate two articles that deal with a social issue, each of which approaches the issue from a different political perspective (e.g., progressive vs. conservative). This assignment enables students to be aware that a magazine's content reflects the political perspective of the editorial staff.
5. Locate an article on a specific event or topic from three different sources -newspapers or magazines; scholarly or research articles from a journal; website information. Compare and contrast the information provided for the event/topic and present findings as an essay or presentation. The criteria for comparing sources should include: accuracy of information presented;authority of the author/producer of information; objectivity of the information presented; and currency or date information was presented or created. [adapted from www.libraries.rutgers.edu/rul/lib_instruct/samples.shtml
6. Assign an article from the popular press that announces the release of a new scientific study. Then have students find the actual study and write a brief comparison of the two sources. This assignment enables students that while the aim of the popular press is not to publish scientific articles, it does play an important role in raising awareness of new research.