Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Essay on Popular and Academic Sources

Essay on Popular and Academic Sources

Nowadays the whole variety of information sources can be divided into two major groups: academic ones and popular ones. Articles of both types can cover the same information but the way they present it is quite different. In this paper, I’m going to compare an academic source and a popular one and to find differences and similarities between them. Both articles touch upon the same problem – the influence of alcohol on heart diseases. The article “Alcohol and ischaemic heart disease: probably no free lunch” is taken from an on-line version of the medical journal “The Lancet” and is considered an academic source while the article “Study: Wine heart benefit “small” is taken from the web-site and is a popular one.

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If we decide to find out the authors of both articles, we face the first difference between them. At the end of the academic source, we can find the names of all the authors, their background and the e-mail to contact them. Thus, we know that Rod Jackson, Joanna Broad, Jennie Connor and Susan Wells, the scholars of the University of Auckland in New Zealand, wrote this article. As concerns the second, popular, source we do not know the author of the article, which is very characteristic of all popular sources. Very often, the authors are either unknown or they belong to people who are not engaged in the investigation described in the article.

Starting reading the articles, we notice the difference of titles at once. The academic one has the title “Alcohol and ischaemic heart disease: probably no free lunch” that requires at least the knowledge of the term “ischaemic heart disease” while the second is named “Study: Wine heart benefit “small” and is aimed at the attraction of readers’ attention. Actually, the entire text of both articles is organized and written in a different way.

The academic source is always directed at specialists, those people who know the topic and perhaps investigate it themselves. It accounts for the usage of terms, complex sentences and academic voice by the authors. Another article is written for an average person that knows only basic facts about heart diseases and is interested in the most general facts concerning the problem. Therefore, while in the academic article we can find such terms as “plausible biological mechanisms”, “HDL-cholesterol”, “thrombolytic effects”, in the popular article they are omitted or replaced by simpler words. For example, in the article “Study: Wine heart benefit “small” the term “autopsy studies” is formulated as “post mortem studies”, the phrase “reported a protective association” sounds as “the same level of protection” and the central term of both articles “ischaemic heart disease” is expressed in the popular source as “coronary artery disease”.

Regarding the organization of the text, one can notice that the text of the academic source is longer and is more structured that the one of the popular article. It has clear introduction and conclusion; every thought is grounded and is set in one paragraph. Those ideas that are expressed in one or two sentences in the popular source are elaborated in the other one. For instance, in the article from the web-cite the statement “A study this year on 200,000 U.S. adults found that 27 of 30 cardiovascular risk factors were significantly more common in non-drinkers than light to moderate drinkers” is in fact a summary of about one-hundred word paragraph in the article from “The Lancet”.

Besides, speaking about the organization of text it is necessary to draw attention to the presence of footnotes and bibliography at the end of any academic article. After the text of the article in question, we can find bibliography, comprising 14 items, references to which we meet within the text itself. As a rule, a popular article does not presuppose the bibliography.

The forms of both articles also differ. If the academic article is written in Shaker – R font, size 10, the popular article is presented in Times New Roman font, size 12. The web page, where the academic article is found, looks like a journal page and the web page of the cite is a typical Internet page with ads and photographs. To conclude, we have analyzed and compared two articles that were taken from an academic source and a popular source. As a result, we found out that though both articles describe the same topic and refer to the same sources, they are different in style, structure and form. The academic article is targeted at specialists and scholars, therefore academic voice is used. The theme of alcohol impact on the cardiovascular system is elaborated and all the ideas are grounded. The difference in size of texts and their language can be explained by the orientation of articles. The popular article seems more like an interpretation of the academic one for average people and is concentrated on the final message to people, omitting the details of scientific trials. All things considered, I believe that while choosing the sources for one’s work it is always necessary to take into the account all these differences.
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