Library Instruction

Distinguishing Scholarly Journals from Other Periodicals

Comparison Chart | Is Journal Peer-Reviewed? | Structure of Typical Research Article

Journals and magazines are important sources for up-to-date information in all disciplines. For many course assignments, you will be required to use authoritative scholarly sources. Therefore, it is very important for you to be able to distinguish scholarly writing from other types of writing. In order to do so, you will need to become familiar with different types of journals and magazines.

  • "Periodical" is a general term used to refer to the following types of publications:
  • Journals (scholarly)
  • Magazines (general interest/substantive and popular)
  • Newspapers (local, national, and international)

Periodicals are published serially or periodically, not just once (as is the case with books) and may be classified into the following three basic categories, each of which reflects significant differences in style, content and audience:

  • Scholarly
  • General Interest/Substantive
  • Popular

Keeping in mind that the lines drawn between types of periodicals aren't always totally clear-cut, the general characteristics of these three categories of journals are summarized in the Comparison Chart.