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Scholarly Journals vs. Popular & Trade Magazines

Comparison of Scholarly Journals and Popular and Trade Magazines

These characteristics are generalizations and may not be applicable in all cases. They are meant as a general guide to help you in evaluating periodicals.

Scholarly Journal
Popular Magazine
Trade/Industry Magazine
  • Scholars in a specific discipline
  • General Public
  • Professionals in a specific industry
  • Articles are written by specialists in the field
  • Usually "peer-reviewed" or "refereed" (i.e., other scholars in the field review articles prior to publication
  • Written by reporters or magazine staff
  • Reviewed by magazine editor
  • Articles are sometimes unsigned
  • Signed articles may not indicate author's affiliation
  • Written by staff or industry professionals
  • Articles sometimes unsigned
  • Signed articles may not indicate author's affiliation
  • Often published by an association, institution or scholarly publisher
  • Published for profit
  • Published for profit or by an industry association
  • Covers are usually plain, rather than slick and colorful
  • May contain charts and graphs, but usually not colorful illustrations
  • Glossy paper and attractive appearance
  • Many illustrations
  • Usually includes many illustrations
  • Provides research-level information for scholars in the field
  • Sources cited extensively in footnotes and bibliography
  • Uses terminology specific to the field
  • May include review of scholarly books pertinent to the field
  • Articles are often long
  • Titles of articles are descriptive
  • Pagination may be numbered consecutively throughout the volume or year
  • Not all scholarly articles are peer-reviewed. Follow the guidelines at Scholarly Peer-reviewed Articles to determine if a journal contains peer-reviewed articles.
  • Advertisements (published for profit)
  • Sources cited briefly or not at all
  • Provides up-to-date information for general readers
  • Little specialized language
  • Articles are usually short
  • May include reviews of books of interest to general readers
  • Titles of articles are intended to produce interest
  • Each issues usually starts with page 1
  • Reports industry trends or news
  • Often includes advertisements and/or classifieds for related goods, services or employment
  • Articles generally do not contain references or footnotes
  • Articles are generally not peer-reviewed
  • Usually published monthly, quarterly or even once or twice a year
  • Usually published weekly or monthly
  • Often received as part of an association membership

Created by: Darylyne Provost | Revised by Martin Wallace: 12/29/2014
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