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 the 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 They are not peer reviewed and generally contain a large number of advertisements.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: