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MAE 4310: Teaching Mathematics in Elementary Schools

This is a guide to library resources for Dr. Giang-Nguyen Nguyen's MAE 4310 Teaching Mathematics in Elementary Schools course.


There are many types of publications that may appear in the search of many databases and on the open Internet. The most important of these for college students to understand include:

  • Scholarly sources -- intended for conducting in-depth research, often using specialized vocabulary and distinguished by references to sources. Reviewed by academic peers who evaluate the reliability of methods used and the validity of conclusions. Scholarly sources help answer the "So What?" question in academic writing by showing connections between variables, issues, or events.
  • Popular sources -- intended for a general audience of readers, , usually to entertain, inform, or persuade. Popular sources focus on who, what, when, and where questions and provide information about current events or issues. Popular sources may include research-oriented publications that lack citations or agenda-driven publications.
  • Trade publications -- intended to share general news, trends, and opinions among practitioners in an industry or profession. They may be written by experts, but are not considered scholarly because they are not peer-reviewed and do not focus on discovering new knowledge or reporting research results. Trade journals are an important source of information in business and for specialized industries [e.g., tourism, mining, agriculture, software development, etc.].

Adapted from Holly Burt, Behavioral Sciences Librarian, USC Libraries, April 2018.

Distinguishing Features

Here are the general differences between scholarly journals and popular magazines:



Popular Magazines

Trade Journals



Scholar in field with stated credentials and affiliations

Journalist, usually a generalist

Journalist, often with expertise in field

Journalist or columnist


All sources cited with extensive bibliographies

No formal citations; sources may be obscure; may provide hyperlinks

No formal citations; may refer to reports or include a bibliography

Sources referred to in text only

Editorial Process

Peer-reviewed by 2-3 experts in the field

Reviewed by a single editor

Reviewed by a single editor

Reviewed by a single editor


To present research findings and expand knowledge in a discipline

To entertain or inform about current or popular events

To inform members of a profession of events, products, and techniques

To inform about current events and issues

Structure of Articles

Lengthy articles that are often divided into specific sections, including, literature review, methodology, results, discussion, and conclusion

Mixed-length articles on a wide variety of subjects

Industry-specific articles of varying lengths reporting news and trends

Brief articles that may include original research written in a journalistic style

Frequency of Publication

Annually, semi-annually, quarterly, or monthly

Monthly or weekly

Monthly or weekly

Weekly or daily


May contain the words "Journal of", "Review of" or "Annals" and include the name of a discipline or subject area

Sometimes one word that may address a general theme or subject

Short and catchy, possibly including the name of a trade or industry

Usually reflects a city or geographic location

Print Appearance

Plain covers; primarily black and white text with few graphics; pages may be consecutive across issues

Glossy and colorful;  many full page advertisements

Glossy with high impact graphics; pictorials of industry events and industry-related advertisements

Newsprint; articles formatted in columns, sometimes across pages in a section


Academic writing style that includes discipline-specific jargon or technical terms

Simple and non-technical

Mix of jargon and technical terminology

Mix of simple and sophisticated


Complex tables or graphs to display research data

Photos and colorful graphics for visual effect

Colorful graphics and photos

Black and white or color photos and graphics


Limited to books, other journals in the field, and professional meetings

Very frequent

Frequent, and related to a specific trade or industry

Very frequent

Intended Audience

Scholars, researchers, scientists, students

General public

Industry members

General public

Value and Usefulness in Research

Critical to understanding and analyzing topics in detail

Limited, but news magazines, are useful for following current events

Limited to news and trends in specific industries

Essential to following current events, especially for  local coverage of issues

Adapted from Scholarly Journals versus Popular Publications, USC Libraries, 2021.