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Biology: Welcome

Popular or scholarly?

Popular science books usually have the goal of explaining scientific research and science topics to a non-scientist and non-specialist audience. They may draw from many fields of science or focus on just one topic. Some books make connections between science and everyday applications, or detail incidents in the history of science.

Scholarly books on science topics are sometimes called monographs because the whole book is about one topic, as opposed to journals that contain articles about many different topics. Since books are much longer than journal articles, they are more likely to contain overviews of the state of science on a particular topic. Some scholarly books are collections of chapters by different authors, with an overall book editor.

How can I tell if the book is scholarly or popular?

Audience and purpose - popular books are written for a general audience. They use everyday language to educate, explain, describe, and/or entertain. Scholarly books, written for scientists and specialists,  tend to use specific scientific vocabulary. The intent is to report on original research or to give an overview of the state of research in a subject area.

Publisher - many scholarly books are published by university presses, or by publishers who specialize in science.

Authors - scholarly books will include the academic credentials of the author(s). Many of the authors are affiliated with research universities or other research institutions.

How do I tell if a journal is popular or scholarly?

Check the SearchPath tutorial pages at http://users.stlcc.edu/college/searchpath/mod4/01-popular-scholarly.html for a quick overview.

Some of the article databases have a feature that allows you to limit your search to only peer-reviewed, scholarly journals.

Scientific American -- Biology News

Scrolling RSS feed from Scientific American.

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