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The Vodka Ad Test

Or a Quick Guide to Evaluating Periodical Articles

Flip your magazine or journal over. What kind of ad is on the back cover? If there is a vodka ad, car ad, or cigarette ad, this may not be considered a scholarly source. But let’s go on to more definitive measures…

A Scholarly Periodical Article has the Following Features:

  • Bibliography, footnotes, or endnotes. This provides evidence of the research that was conducted to produce the article.
  • Written by expert(s) in the field. Usually there is a paragraph of information that describes the author’s credentials and current position.
  • Published by Associations, Research Institutes, University Presses.
  • “Peer reviewed.” Refers to the policy of experts in the field examining journal articles before acceptance for publication.
  • Written in the jargon of the field for scholarly readers (professors, researchers or students.)
  • Illustrations that support the text, such as tables of statistics, graphs, maps, or photographs

Popular Magazines On the Other Hand:

  • No footnotes or references.
  • Written by journalists who are usually not experts in the field.
  • Easy to read. Intended for lay audience. Informative and entertaining.
  • Short articles.
  • Many advertisements throughout the magazine.
  • Glossy, slick. Illustrated with graphics and photos.
  • Unsigned articles.

These criteria apply to all periodicals, online or print.

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