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Types of Periodical Articles

Comparison of different types of periodicals / Description of empirical research articles

Comparison of Scholarly, Trade, & Popular Periodicals

Do you have an assignment that requires you to locate scholarly articles? 

Identifying scholarly articles involves an analysis of the article's content. The chart below is meant to assist you in this process; however, any one criteria by itself may not indicate that an article is scholarly. For example, although a book review may be found in a scholarly journal, it is not a scholarly article.


Scholarly Journals

Trade or Professional Publications

Popular Magazines

Length Longer articles (often 10+ pages), providing in-depth analysis Mid-length articles (often 2-8 pages), providing practical guidance Shorter articles (often <1-5 pages), providing broader overviews
Author An expert of specialist in the field (often a professor), name and credentials always provided Usually someone working in the field, with hands-on experience; some staff writers Usually a staff writer or a journalist, name and credentials often not provided
Language Professional language, jargon, theoretical terms Some jargon and technical terms Non-technical language
Likely Audience Scholarly readers (professors, researchers, or students) Other people working in the industry Anyone
Advertisements Few or none Some -- products to sell to practitioners in that industry Many -- products for the general public
Format/Structure Usually structured, with likely sections: abstract, literature review, methodology, results, conclusion, reference list Sometimes has sub-sections for organization No specific format or structure
Special Features Illustrations that support the text, such as tables of statistics, graphs, maps, or photographs Some illustrations; practical guidelines, best practices, lesson plans, how-to, or other hands-on direction Glossy/color illustrations or graphics, usually for advertising purposes
Editors Reviewed and critically evaluated by several editors. Often refereed or peer-reviewed by experts in the field Editorial board of other practitioners or professionals in the field, but no external peer review Not evaluated by experts in the field, bu by editors or other journalists on staff
Credits Reference list (works cited) and/or footnotes are always present to document research Usually no formal reference list, although references to other research are often mentioned in-text No reference list, although references to other research are sometimes mentioned in-text

(This chart is based on: Scholarly Journal, Trade Magazine, & Popular Magazine (University of Wisconsin Whitewater Libraries))

View this illustration to see the various parts of a scholarly article: Anatomy of a Scholarly Article

Research databases can also provide assistance in determining whether or not a periodical is scholarly/academic/peer-reviewed: