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Finding Scholarly Journals


Appearance in Search Results

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

How to Read Search Results

Journal article entries in results lists can be confusing to read if you aren't used to the order of information. Though there may be minor variations from one database to another, they all follow the same basic pattern:


What it looks like in database search results:

Sample Journal Titles

  • Journal of Geology
  • JEN: Journal of Emergency Nursing
  • Counseling Psychologist
  • New England Journal of Medicine

Distinguishing Features

  • Long article title, often including technical language
  • Journal title usually specifies a narrow range of scholarly interest; often "Journal of" or "Review" in title
  • Articles rarely less than 10 pages
  • Identified as "academic" or "peer-reviewed" in search results


What it looks like in database search results:

Sample Titles

  • ADWeek
  • Windpower Monthly
  • Accounting Today
  • Investor's Business Daily

Distinguishing Features

  • Article titles of varying length; often include acronyms, business names, or names of people important in an industry
  • Journal titles usually indicate a particular industry
  • Article length usually under 10 pages or 2500 words
  • Publication date usually a specific date
  • Identified as "Industry" or "Trade" publication by database


What it looks like in database search results:

Sample Popular Titles

  • Business Week
  • Ebony
  • Readers Digest
  • Sports Illustrated

Distinguishing Features

  • Short, catchy article title
  • Periodical title either idiosyncratic and ambiguous (e.g., Time, Harper's) or identifying an audience category or pastime (e.g. Ebony, Sports Illustrated).
  • Publication date usually a specific date
  • Article length under 2500 words or 10 pages.
  • Identified as "Popular" or "Magazine" or "Newspaper" by database.

Sub-Types of Popular Periodicals


Tabloid periodicals come in a variety of styles, but often use a newspaper format. Their language is elementary and occasionally inflammatory or sensational. They assume a certain gullibility in their audience. Tabloids appeal to curiosity, satisfy appetites for gossip and sex, and cater to popular superstitions. They often do so with flashy headlines designed to astonish (e.g. Aliens from Mars Invade Michael Jackson's Mansion) or photos of celebrities.

Sample Tabloid Titles

  • National Examiner
  • Star
  • Sun
  • Weekly World News

Substantive News or General Interest

Substantive news or general interest sources are usually attractive in appearance, and may include photographs. Some, though not very many, may cite sources. Authors of articles appearing in this type of publication include editorial staff, scholars, and freelance writers. They are generally published far more frequently than scholarly journals. Editorial departments in these periodicals do a more thorough job of fact-checking than other popular periodicals (and issue retractions when published stories have erred) and work diligently to avoid bias.

Sample Substantive News or General Interest Periodicals

  • The New Yorker
  • National Geographic
  • Scientific American
  • The Wall Street Journal