Much of the scholarly research published today is published as journal articles. This page will cover how to tell if what you've found is a journal article and the differences between scholarly journals, trade publications, and popular magazines.
As you are searching in the Library and online, sometimes it will be very obvious that you've found a journal article. Other times, it might not be so clear.
Here are a few clues that will help you pick out journal article reference citations:
While you will encounter many different styles for citing articles, they usually contain similar information, just in different orders. In APA 6th, journal article reference citations follow this general format:
Author. (Year). Article title. Journal title, volume number(issue number), page numbers. doi: number
Here is an example:
Wood, M. (2016). Social marketing for social change. Social Marketing Quarterly, 22(2), 107-118. doi:10.1177/1524500416633429
Note: Not all journal reference citations will follow this format exactly. If you have questions about citing an article using APA 6th style, please contact the Writing Center.
Here is an example of what the first page of a journal article may look like:
Journals, also known as periodicals or magazines, generally fall under three categories:
Scholarly journals are written by academics for academics. They are generally focused on a specific academic field or discipline. Their purpose is to advance scholarship in that field by publishing in-depth research studies. Most scholarly journals are also peer reviewed. In fact, in a number of library databases, when you limit your results to only scholarly journals you also limit your results to only peer reviewed journals. You can find out more about the peer review process on our Peer Review Guide.
Trade publications, or professional magazines, are written by staff writers or practitioners in a given trade or profession. The intent is to share industry news, trends, and advances. They are also used to advertise trade specific products and job openings. Most trade publications do not undergo a peer-review process; however, there are exceptions. You can use Ulrich's Periodicals Directory to verify if a trade publication is peer reviewed.
Popular magazines are written by journalists to inform or entertain the general public. They cover current events, celebrities, sports, fashion, etc. They are not peer reviewed and generally contain a large number of advertisements.
The chart below goes over some of the main differences between scholarly journals, trade publications, and popular magazines.
|Details||Scholarly Journals||Trade Publications||Popular Magazines|
|Purpose||Report on research studies, advance knowledge||Provide news, information on an industry||Inform, entertain|
|Scope||Narrow focus on one academic field||Practical information for a specific industry||Broad overview of topics|
|Content||Research reports, methodology, theory||Industry trends, products, association news||News, opinions, general interest|
|Accountability||Peer reviewed||Professional ethics||Journalistic ethics|
|Audience||Students, researchers, scholars||Professionals, practitioners||General public|
|Title||Often includes journal, review, or bulletin||Often includes industry name||Rarely includes journal, review, or bulletin|
|Author(s)||Experts, scholars, specialists||Professionals, staff writers||Journalists|
|Writing Style||Scholarly, technical||Technical||Informal, journalistic, conversational|
|Language||Technical, assumes a scholarly background||Industry jargon||Easily accessible|
|Organization||Structured; abstract, literature review, methodology, etc||No specific format or structure||No specific format or structure|
|Visuals||Graphs, charts that support the research||Pictures, illustrations||Pictures, illustrations|
|Bibliography||Always cite sources, bibliography in accepted style||May cite sources||Rarely cite sources|
|Publisher||Academic press, professional organization||Professional, trade association||Commercial publisher|
Scholarly Journals Examples:
Trade Publications Examples:
Popular Magazines Examples: