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Religious Periodicals: Scholarly or Popular?

by Theresa Rhodes last modified Aug 04, 2014 11:16 AM

Note: This guide focuses on evaluating periodicals for your CHR 150 assignments. Additional course-specific resources are available on the main Christianity Subject Librarian page.

Articles from journals and magazines are important sources of current information. You will need a mix of sources for your site reports.  Remember that both types offer valuable information.

  • popular magazines and scholarly journals
  • print (books and journals) and electronic (websites of reputable organizations)

Scholarly journals

  • have a serious "look" with charts, graphs, few glossy pictures--black and white
  • written by an established expert, scholar, or researcher in the field whose credentials and institutional affiliation are listed
  • reviewed by a panel of experts (peers)
  • use the terminology and language of the specific field
  • provides an in depth analysis on a specific subject
  • contents usually include an abstract, literature review, methods, results, conclusion, footnotes, and a bibliography
  • generally published by a professional organization or scholarly press

As a general guideline, searching in ATLA will retrieve articles that are more scholarly.  It is also possible to limit your search to a specific title by selecting the Publications tab in the toolbar.


You may want to look specifically for articles in Biblical Archaeology Review

Popular magazines

  • often slick and glossy, heavily illustrated with photographs--colorful
  • usually shorter articles written by staff or free-lance writers whose credentials may or may not be included
  • reviewed by the magazine editor
  • usually written in simply language with little depth--no subject expertise assumed
  • provides an general overview on a variety of topics
  • rarely include footnotes or bibliographies
  • published for profit

As a general guideline, limiting a search in Academic Search Complete to Scholarly (peer reviewed) will retrieve articles that are more scholarly.


Examples for your CHR 150 assignments include:

Christian Century
Christianity Today


  • You can also use Google to find additional information--look for a tab/header "about" the journal. As an example, here's the link for Baptist History & Heritage.
  • It is okay to use Wikipedia to identify sources--just don't list it as the source in your bibliography.  Follow the links to the actual sources listed and list that source.
  • Print periodicals in the Tarver Library are on the first floor arranged alphabetically by title, rather than by call number.
  • Electronic journals are found using the Find Electronic Journals link from the University Libraries web page.
  • Tarver current periodicals are separated on slanted shelves. You need to lift the top shelf in order to get to the other issues shelved underneath.
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