Skip to main content
Wartburg College homepage  
VOGEL LIBRARY

Neuroscience Courses & Research: Scholarly vs.
Popular Sources

Evaluating Media Content

PATS: Acronym for Evaluation indicators
Purpose Is the intent to INFORM or PERSUADE?
Authority Scholar? Journalist? Experienced in the topic? Whatever it is, what does it mean in the context of history? Of a country? Of a time period?
Timeliness Depends on your topic whether currency is important
Scope Do you want something that covers the topic broadly, specifically, or in-depth? (e.g., respectively, encyclopedias, news or scholarly articles, and books)

Overview of Publication Types

  Scholarly Journal News/General Interest Popular Magazines Sensational 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 imageof 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