Professors often suggest that students include articles from scholarly, refereed, or peer-reviewed journals as resources for their research papers. These articles are authored by experts in their fields and reviewed by peers before getting accepted for publication. See below for a chart to help you distinguish between the three main types of periodicals.
|Popular Magazine||Scholarly Journal||Trade Journal|
|Appearance||Highly visual, lots of advertising and photos||Sober design, little advertising, mostly text with some graphs and tables||Visual; some advertising related to the field, photos|
|Audience||General readership||Students, researchers, scholars, specialists in a particular subject||Members of a particular trade, profession or industry|
|Content||Popular magazines contain feature stories, reviews, and editorials, and may report research findings as news.||Scholarly journals contain original research, theoretical issues, and new developments in the subject discipline.||Trade and professional journals contain news, trends, technical and practical aspects of the trade, profession or industry.|
|Articles||Are meant to entertain and inform||Present the results of original research performed by the authors; often include a review of existing literature on the topic||May present industry news and/or original research|
|Use popular language, geared toward the average reader||Include specialized vocabulary of a subject discipline||Include specialized vocabulary of a trade, profession or industry|
|Written by staff writers (not always named), or freelance writers||Written by subject specialists identified by name, with degrees and academic affiliation usually given||Written by staff writers and freelancers, usually professionals in the field|
|Generally short in length (1-10 pages)||Generally medium-length to long (5-20 pages or more)||Generally short to medium-length (1-20 pages)|
|Rarely include references or footnotes||Meticulously documented; extensive references and/or footnotes||May contain a few references or footnotes|
|Evaluated by editorial staff, but may not be reviewed by experts in the field||Most often peer-reviewed by other authorities in the field to validate findings||Evaluated by editorial staff that may include experts in the field, but not peer-reviewed|
Please note that not all articles found in magazines, or journals, will contain the noted characteristics. Use careful judgement in determining if an article in a scholarly journal actually presents in-depth, original research, or if an article in a magazine or trade journal goes beyond presenting news and current trends.