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Magazine or Journal
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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.)


    • 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
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