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Finding Scholarly Journals

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Point-by-point Comparison

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

Scholarly v. Trade v. Popular Periodical

 

Characteristics Peer-Reviewed or Scholarly Journal Trade or Industry Journal Popular Journal or Magazine
Article Title Long, often full of technical vocabulary, sometimes using a colon Usually short and catchy, in plain English, but often including names of businesses, products, or executives Short and catchy, plain English
Summary Formal Abstract usually supplied in database Summary/abstract sometimes provided: usually just an excerpt from the beginning of the article Summary/abstract rarely provided; there may be an excerpt from the beginning of the article
Journal Title Often (but not always)  includes "Journal of" and names a field of study Often derived from business area or product Often idiosyncratic; many are probably recognizable & familiar
Author(s)
  • Researchers, scholars, experts, specialists
  • Author's credentials and academic affiliation listed
  • Industry practitioners, insiders
  • Journalists familiar with an industry
  • Author credentials sometimes provided
  • Journalists, staff-writers, freelance authors 
  • Rarely author's credentials or affiliation
  • Often no author provided
Article
  • Lengthy, focusing on in-depth analysis
  • Few, if any pictures, and fewer still in color 
  • A highly specialized vocabulary
  • Articles are usually structured with distinct sections with headings: abstract, literature review, methodology, results, conclusion, works cited.
  • Short to medium length, focusing on broader coverage
  • Illustrated, with colorful graphs and photos
  • Plain English, but many references to names of businesses, executives, products, and processes
  • Journalistic format with a one-sentence "lead" that establishes the story, a few paragraphs that reiterate the story and add some detail, and a body that adds significantly more detail.
  • Short to medium length, focusing on broader coverage
  • heavily illustrated, many with photographs
  • composed of normal, non-technical vocabulary that's easy to understand
  • Journalistic format with a one-sentence "lead" that establishes the story, a few paragraphs that reiterate the story and add some detail, and a body that adds significantly more detail.
Documentation of sources Formal citations within the article; at the end of the article there is always a bibliography of sources used by the author(s). Citations take a general form ("experts say") or name people and their occupation and workplace ("according to Jane Doe, an expert in Quality Management at Dow Chemical"). No bibliography, but sometimes contact information. Citations take a general form ("scientists say") or name a person and their occupation and workplace ("according to Dr. Smith, a geneticist at MIT"). No bibliography.
Publication cycle Most often quarterly, sometimes monthly. Articles can take from 6 months to 2 years to go from submitted to publication. Most often monthly; sometimes weekly. In-depth investigative articles may take months for publication; most articles take just weeks or days. Newspapers are issued daily or weekly. Magazines weekly or monthly. However, web publication has increased the pace; breaking stories can be published within hours, and then updated frequently as news develops. In-depth investigative journalism can take months, sometimes up to a year.
Advertisements Often a few plain advertisements in the final pages, announcing conferences or special issues of journals Many advertisements, but not for retail: usually for business-to-business services and products. Numerous, often colorful advertisements for retail products of interest to the periodical's intended audience
Purpose

Provides well-sourced technical information to researchers and expert practitioners

Provides practical business and industry news and information to workplace professionals

Provides information and entertainment to segments of the public

Intended Audience Scholars, researchers, students, experts. Industry practitioners, investors, business leaders General readers, lay-people, non-experts
Publisher University presses, professional associations/societies, educational institutions Industry or trade associations Commercial publishers
Why Use it
  • Your professor requires it
  • You want the most objective, rationally argued, evidence-supported information
  • Your topic is sufficiently narrow that you can benefit from similarly narrowly-focused articles
  • It is time to deepen your engagement with your major field
  • To understand practical, business perspectives on a concept (i.e. how research is applied)
  • To get industry-insider information not available in general news sources
  • To learn background information on a topic
  • To learn about trends in markets and industries
  • To familiarize yourself with background on a topic before delving into research
  • To understand the broad appeal of or conventional perspectives on a topic
  • To find potential sources: look for names of researchers
  • to establish a research need in your introduction by providing evidence for broad interest in a topic
  • To get information on currently breaking stories not available in other source types.