Boston College University Libraries

Finding Scholarly Journals: Home

How to recognize and access different types of periodicals: scholarly, peer-reviewed, popular, trade/industry, magazines, newspapers

Print Periodical Covers

Magazines, Newspapers, Journals

What is a Periodical?

Magazines are periodicals. Newspapers are periodicals. Why do librarians call them periodicals? It's our business to collect and provide access to all kinds of publications. We use the word "periodical" to distinguish publications that are issued periodically--daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly--from publications that are issued singly, like books. 

Newspapers and magazines

  • are published daily, weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly
  • appeal to broad demographic groups
  • sell 10,000-2,000,000 copies

Librarians and publishers call newspapers and magazines "popular" periodicals.

Journals

  • are published monthly, quarterly, or semi-annually
  • appeal to narrow clusters of academics and researchers
  • sell 500-5,000 copies, mostly to libraries

Journals are also often called academic or scholarly to indicate both their origins (often in academic institutions) and audiences (often scholars). They are also often peer-reviewed or refereed.

People new to these terms often confuse journal with article. An article is a single authored item within any kind of periodical. A journal is a periodically-published collection of articles by different authors.

Peer-Reviewed or Refereed

Many academic journals are peer-reviewed or refereed journals. When an author (usually a university professor and/or researcher) submits an article, copies are sent to several reviewers who are expert scholars in the author's field. These reviewers then recommend whether or not the article should be published. Some journals reject as many as 90% of submissions. This rigrorous review process provides a high degree of credibility.

Two short, informative videos about Scholarly and Peer-Reviewed journals:

Peer Review in 5 Minutes

What is a Scholarly Journal Article? (3 minutes)

Though peer-reviewed, refereed, scholarly, and academic are not exactly the same thing, they are often used interchangeably.

License

This guide has been created by Boston College University Libraries and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. 

Subject Guide

Steve Runge
Contact:
212 O'Neill Library
Boston College
140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467
617-552-2183