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What are Scholarly Journals?

Periodicals are publications that are issued "periodically" - that is, at regular time intervals, such as weekly, monthly, or quarterly. They can be magazines, journals, or newspapers. Periodicals can be divided into three broad categories: scholarly journals, popular magazines, and trade publications. These three types of publications serve different purposes and different audiences. Know what types of sources your professor expects you to use before you begin your research.

Scholarly Journals

  • Authors are scholars or researchers in their fields.
  • Authors cite their sources in footnotes, endnotes, and bibliographies.
  • Individual issues have little or no advertising.
  • Articles must go through a peer-review process.
  • Articles usually report original scholarly research.
  • Most illustrations are charts, figures, or graphs.
  • Authors use the specialized language or jargon of the discipline.
  • Book reviews and editorials are not scholarly articles, even when found in scholarly journals.


American journal of political science coverIntl journal of middle east studies cover

Popular Magazines

  • Authors are journalists or professional writers for a general audience.
  • Authors may mention sources, but rarely cite them in notes or bibliographies.
  • Individual issues contain many advertisements.
  • There is no peer review process. Articles are reviewed by editors or publishers.
  • Illustrations are often numerous and colorful.
  • Articles are meant to inform and entertain an educated audience.
  • Language is written for the general adult audience (no specialized jargon).
  • Newspapers are considered to be popular magazines.


 US NewsTime magazine cover

Trade Publications

  • Authors are specialists in a specific field or industry.
  • Authors may mention sources, but rarely cite them formally in notes or bibliographies.
  • Articles are meant for people employed in an industry or seeking employment in it.
  • There is no peer review process.
  • Articles give practical information to people in an industry.
  • Some illustrations are included, usually charts, graphs, etc.
  • Authors use jargon of the industry.