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Scholarly vs. Popular Periodicals: Basics

This guide describes the differences between Scholarly Peer Reviewed Journals and Popular Magazines

This guide describes the differences between scholarly peer reviewed journals and popular sources.

What is a periodical? What is the difference between scholarly and popular periodicals?

How can you identify an author’s credentials and qualifications for writing in a scholarly journal?

How does the peer review process work?

*by Eli Moody, Vanderbilt University, Peabody Library, 2007  (3:12 min)

A periodical is  published at regular intervals (daily, weekly, monthly...) in a series throughout the year .  On the Web it can be hard to distinguish the difference.

Journal (scholarly): includes articles written by scholars in an academic or professional field, which are often peer reviewed.

Magazine (popular):  includes articles about diverse topic of general interest and current events. Usually these are written by journalist and geared toward the general public.

Newspaper (popular): includes articles about current events usually published daily. 

Academic or Scholarly Journal Articles often:

  • are written by experts (professors and researchers)
  • are intended to be read by other professors, researchers and students.
  • use specialized or technical vocabularly for the field.
  • include lengthy list of references (citations).
  • are longer and focus more indepth on research
  • have little or no advertising.

Popular Magazine Articles often

  • are written by journalists.
  • are intended to be read by the general public
  • use language understood by most readers
  • rarely include citations for their sources
  • are shorter and general in focus
  • have a lot of advertising.

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