Physics 230: Organic Solar Cells

Compare Info Types: Popular, Trade, and Scholarship

A New Approach to Building Solar Power: Add Water image from ENR: Engineering News-Record

A New Approach to Building Solar Energy: Add Water from ENR: Engineering News-Record

Scholarly vs Popular Physics Articles

 It's imperative to recognize the difference between entertainment, journalism and scholarship. 

How Can You Tell the Difference Between Types of Periodicals?
Author Most articles are signed, though  not all, but little information beyond a name. Physicists, science writers, journalists. You may have to dig for credentials. Primarily experts, often university researchers, whose credentials are usually included.
Audience General public. Written for the "average" person who doesn't need in-depth knowledge of a topic. (popular) General public with an interest in more in-depth discussion of topic. (mostly popular) Academics: scholars, researchers, college and graduate students
Content Enterntainment, informative. Some in-depth discussion and analysis with research on current popular topics in physics. Research, analysis, scholarship. Often includes abstract, research methods, conclusion, bibliography.
Length Shorter articles providing broad overviews of topics. (popular) Short newsy items to longer, in-depth articles. Longer articles providing in-depth analysis of topics. (scholarly)
Appearance Glossy, colorful, pictures, busy, advertisements. Unclear division between ad and editorial content. Glossy, pictures, advertisements. Text-heavy, black & white, graphs, charts, relevant images, few specialized advertisements.
Credibility Articles are generally evaluated by staff editors rather than experts in the field. Sources are frequently uncited and anonymous. Articles are reviewed by editors and sometimes by experts in the field. Articles are submitted for peer-review and approval by professionals and scholars in the field. Frequently sent back for revision for evidence, currency, comprehensiveness.

Scholarly Articles

What is Scholarly Literature?

Scholarship is a conversation in which authors build on, cite, and either reinforce or refute existing scholarship on their topic - and use their own work to fill in gaps and further knowledge in the field.

Some features of scholarly literature:
  • Reports of original research

  • Authored by credentialed experts in the scholarly field

  • In-depth analysis of topic

  • Abstract that summarizes the article. Read to determine relevance

  • Explanation of methodology and materials

  • Discussion of study and results

  • Literature Cited section

  • In-text citations or notes

  • Uses technical vocabulary

Types of Scholarly Articles

Three types of scholarly article in physics.

A Research article reports on an original experiment or study that investigates a stated problem. The study is carefully controlled so that results are valid. Data is collected and analyzed. 

A Literature Review summarizes and analyzes the important articles on a topic. Literature reviews are a great resource for learning about the scope of research, questions, issues and theories in a field. 

A Theoretical article is an article that presents a theoretical approach to a question or field. It draws on others' research to support the theory, rather than presenting new research and data.