Searching for information can be overwhelming. Part of what makes research challenging is that not all information is reliable or high in quality. When evaluating information, a researcher should consider the Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy, and Purpose of each source he or she encounters.
This guide divides the criteria for periodical literature into four categories to help distinguish between the various levels of scholarship found in library electronic and print collections (From Cornell University)
Academic Journals v. Popular Magazines
If you find yourself confused as to what kind of article your professor wants you to gather for that paper, use this handy chart to determine if you are looking at an academic or popular article.