Scholarly Journals vs. Popular Magazines


Scholarly Journals vs. Popular Magazines

Periodical publications (magazines, journals, and newspapers) vary greatly with regard to the type, depth and accuracy of information provided. Often your professors will require that at least a certain number of sources for a paper come from scholarly journals such as Journal of Politics as opposed to popular magazines such as Newsweek. Trade or professional journals are another type of periodical. They provide specialized technical information related to specific professions.

The table below outlines some of the characteristics of these types of periodicals.


SCHOLARLY PROFESSIONAL POPULAR
Report Research Findings Provide Technical Information Provide General Information
Sources Thoroughly Cited Some Sources May Be Cited Sources Not Usually Cited
Written by Scholars Written by Experts Written by Staff Writers
Written for Scholars Written for Professionals Written for General Public
Articles are Peer-reviewed Articles Reviewed by Experts Reviewed by Editorial Staff
Long Articles Short Articles Short Articles
Black and White Charts, Graphs Color Illustrations, Some Gloss Color Illustrations, Glossy
Little or No Advertising Some Targeted Advertising Lots of General Advertising
Published Monthly, Quarterly Published Weekly/Monthly Published Weekly/Monthly


To look up whether a particular publication is scholarly (or peer-reviewed) ask for the reference book Magazines for Libraries at the Research Assistance Desk. If you have questions about whether a publication is appropriate, ask your professor or a librarian.