Popular, Trade & Scholarly Periodicals
The best way to define Popular magazines is to think about the titles you would purchase in the drug store or grocery store. They are easy to read, have lots of advertising, and pictures. The articles usually cover topics of current interest or importance. Rarely are these appropriate for academic research projects. Common examples of these kinds of magazines are Time, PC World, Sports Illustrated or USA Today.
Trade/professional journals are journals that usually you receive because you have a membership in a trade or organization. They may be included as a benefit of your membership. The articles give current news, developments, trends and discuss current issues of that association or trade. For some kinds of research assignments it may be appropriate to use references from these kinds of journals for your writing. Some examples of trade/professional journals are NASSP, AORN or The Government Accountants Journal.
Scholarly journals These articles are about research studies and can be lengthy. They often begin with an abstract of the article to follow. It includes a reference list at the end or has footnotes. This reference list can be used to find more sources like the one you are reading. The writing uses technical words and may be difficult to understand if you are not used to the specialized vocabulary. The journal includes few pictures or advertisements, but may include tables, charts, and diagrams as a part of the articles. The authors tend to be academicians or researchers. The articles are reviewed by an editorial board before acceptance for publication. It is known as a peer reviewed or refereed journal. Some of the online databases, e.g. ABI/INFORM Complete, Academic Search Complete, Business Source Complete, or CINAHL, allow limiting your search results to only the ones that are peer reviewed journals. Some examples of scholarly journals are Journal of Business Ethics, Personnel Psychology, Elementary School Journal, Journal of Organizational Behavior, and Nursing Science Quarterly. This category of journals is much more acceptable for research in the academic setting.
For a more complete understanding of each category and some other ones, please keep reading below.
Scholarly & Peer Reviewed Journals; White Papers & Trade Journals
journals contain articles sharing the latest in
academic thought and research studies. Such journals include few
pictures or advertisements, but may include tables, charts, and diagrams
as a part of the articles. The authors tend to be academicians or
researchers, and the intended readers are likewise researchers,
professors, and university students. The reader of a scholarly
article is expected to possess an extensive vocabulary and to know the
technical words used in the subject. Scholarly articles review how
prior research aligns with the current finding, and therefore provide
many supporting citations and references.
Scholarly articles are reviewed by an editorial board before acceptance
for publication. Scholarly journals often publish on a quarterly
basis, and the editorial review process may cause a year to pass between
the author's article being submitted and the article appearing in
Researcher writers provide a detailed account of their research methods
so as to allow their work to be tested by others. They often employ
statistics to validate the applicability of their samples to a larger
population. As a result, research articles are lengthy and challenging
As a service to readers, scholars are required to submit an abstract
(summary) of the article. This abstract appears at the start of the
printed article, and appears in database indexes.
Many of the OCLS article databases have a checkbox labeled "scholarly."
When this checkbox is selected, only scholarly articles will appear
in the result list. The database shall not display results for
articles from poplar magazines, newspapers and trade journals.
A few publishers in advanced fields, such as Emerald (management & library science) or Sage (management & medicine), only publish for an academic audience, and their work can be assumed to be scholarly.
However, if an article is found using a search engine, it is difficult to determine if it is scholarly. The following indicators are helpful in determining if an article is scholarly:
Tip: If unsure whether an article is scholarly, check with a librarian. Librarians can use reference tools such as UlrichsWeb that librarians use to verify whether a journal is scholarly and publishes peer-reviewed articles.
reviewed journals are an elite subset of scholarly
writing. Peer reviewed articles are reviewed by experts in the
field ("peers" of the author) before acceptance for publication.
The paper submitted to the peer reviewers has its cover page removed to
conceal the author's name and affiliation in an effort to eliminate
Peer reviewed research has been checked multiple times to ensure that
it is an worthy addition to the academic literature, and therefore such
articles can be used authoritatively to guide later researchers and
Some of the online databases, e.g. Academic
Search Complete or CINAHL,
allow limiting your search to results that are only from peer reviewed
journals. Some examples of scholarly journals are Journal of
Business Ethics, Personnel Psychology, Elementary School Journal or
Journal of Organizational Behavior.
Even though a journal contains peer reviewed articles, it may also have
other types of materials such as editorials, letters to the editor, book
reviews, notices of upcoming conferences and even humor.
Reports and White
Papers are known as "gray literature" because they
have not been well indexed (limiting future retrieval). These publications
usually provide a case study about a policy or product or service.
United States government reports
are available from a number of agencies, and research reports are also available
from private firms and foundations.
publications, often called "trade journals" are
magazines or newsletters that are distributed to members in a trade or
organization. They are not scholarly, as their articles rarely
have references crediting the prior work of others. They may be
included as a benefit of organizational membership, or may be completely
funded by advertisers.
The articles give current news, developments, trends and discuss
current issues facing that association or trade. Articles in these
publications are sometimes sponsored by advertisers, and product reviews
present the positive aspects of an advertiser's product or service.
Because trade publications are the voice for the membership of an
organization or industry, their promotion of specified objectives results
in strong bias. For example, an article originating from the National Pork
Producers reveals a set of underlying assumptions that differs from an
article issued by the People
for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
Popular magazines and newspapers are the titles you would purchase in the drug store or grocery store. They are easy to read, having lots of advertising and pictures. Popular magazines are issued at least once a month, and newspapers are issued at least as often, so the articles usually cover topics of current interest or importance. Their usage in academic writing would be limited to providing evidence of current events or trends. Tip: It is rarely appropriate to cite popular magazines in academic research projects. Common examples of these kinds of magazines are Time, PC World, Sports Illustrated or USA Today.
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