There are several types of periodicals found in academic library collections. Knowing something about the characteristics of each type--popular, scholarly, or trade--will help in identifying the appropriate type of periodical titles.
Here are some difference between Scholarly Journals vs. Popular Magazines
POPULAR PERIODICALS (also referred to as MAGAZINES)
- Tend to have short articles (1-5 pages)
- Cover a variety of topic/subject areas (Time, The New Yorker, Newsweek ). They may also cover a single subject area with the intention of informing or entertaining the readership (Sports Illustrated or Audubon).
- Contain articles that do not contain a bibliography or cited reference page. The reader cannot check the author's information by tracking down and reading the original information source.
- Intended for a non-academic, non-specialized audience.
- Use conventional/conversational language, as opposed to a specialized vocabulary.
- Provide articles written by journalists, rather than researchers or specialists in a given field.
- Provide articles often accompanied by photographs or other illustrations.
- Include extensive commercial advertising.
- Issued frequently (i.e. come out weekly, bi-weekly or monthly).
- Are sometimes in newspaper format.
SCHOLARLY PERIODICALS (also referred to as JOURNALS)
- Include lengthy articles (five to fifty+ pages) which contain original research or results of a study done in a specific subject area (e.g. music theory, psychology, medicine).
- Contain articles with footnotes or cited reference pages. The cited references allow the reader to consult the same material that the author used in his/her research.
- Intended for an academic or scholarly audience and use technical or specialized vocabulary.
- Publish articles written by scholars, specialists, or researchers in the field (as opposed to articles written by journalists reporting on or synthesizing research).
- Publish reviews of the literature.
- Include articles with charts or tables: news photos and other types of graphics are often not used except in the case of articles on visual subjects such as art, design, or architecture.
- Produced under the editorial supervision of a professional association (e.g. Journal of the American Medical Association) or by a scholarly press (e.g. University of Washington Press).
- Contain little or no advertising or photographs.
- Issued less frequently than magazines (i.e. two to twelve times per year.)
TRADE PUBLICATIONS (also called PROFESSIONAL PUBLICATIONS)
- Intended for a very specific audience, usually managers or administrators in business, finance, or industry (e.g. Advertising Age,or Computerweek).
- Issued weekly or monthly to take advantage of fast-breaking changes in products or technology.
- Contain regular columns of news and commentary, as well as lengthier articles about current issues and trends of interest to people in the field.
- Include articles written by specialists or journalists.
Still can't tell the difference? These resources at Southwestern College Library can help:
Ulrich's International Periodicals Directory / Reference Desk Z 6941 U5
Magazines for Libraries / Reference Z6941 K2