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US Military History: Research 101

This guide is for use with military history courses taught at University of Wyoming, specifically HIST 2020: US Military History.

Popular vs. Scholarly Articles - What's the difference?

There are three distinct types of articles: scholarly, popular, and trade.


Cover of the Journal of the American Medical AssociationScholarly articles are usually lengthy and written in scholarly language by scholars and researchers.  These articles are often peer-reviewed, which means that the information in the article was checked for accuracy and importance by a team of experts in the field before publication.

Scholarly articles often report on research.  Research articles can be identified by their standard format, containing sections titled Abstract, Methods, Results, Conclusions, and Bibliography. 

Be aware that scholarly journals sometimes contain non-scholarly content, such as book reviews or editorial opinions. While these articles can be useful they do not qualify as "scholarly" or "peer-reviewed".

If you are not sure whether an article is peer-reviewed, you can look up the journal in the Ulrich's Periodicals Directory to find out, or check the author guidelines on the journal's web site.

Cover of Time magazine Popular articles are the articles in magazines that you encounter in the grocery store or the dentist's office. The articles are written by journalists to inform and entertain, and frequently give short, easy-to-read overviews of the research articles published in scholarly journals.

Cover of Pharmacy TimesTrade journal articles are a third type of journal article you might encounter. These articles contain practical advice and information for workers within a specific occupation. For example, a professional pharmacist might read the trade journal Pharmacy Times to find out about new advances in child-proof lids, but she will turn to scholarly research articles to learn how a new drug performed in clinical trials.

Anatomy of a Scholarly Article

Searching Databases

UW Libraries offers hundreds of article databases.  Use disciplinary databases to narrow your search to specific subjects.  Use multidisciplinary databases to find information that crosses fields of study.  Browse for databases by title or subject on the UW Libraries' Databases A to Z page.

Click the "Databases A-Z" tab on the UW Libraries home page, or use the link below to go there directly.

Search Tips

Too few results?

Use fewer search terms, or swap words out with synonyms.

Borrow the subject terms that come up in the sidebar

Truncate keywords to get all variations of the word (E.g. "censor*" searches for censor, censored, censorship, and censors).

Too many results?

Use words and terms that are more precise

E.g. "basketball" instead of "sports"

Add an additional keyword

Enclose exact phrases in double quotation marks (e.g., "world health organization")

Refine your search using facets like publication type, date range, or subject headings

Still need help?

Ask a librarian!

Video: What is a Scholarly Journal Article?