Scholarly Journal or Popular Magazine? How To Tell The  Difference

Home > Departments > Library Instruction > Research Guides > Scholarly Journal or Popular Magazine? How To Tell The  Difference

Characteristics of Academic/Professional/Scholarly Journals

  • Scholarly journals have a serious/professional look. Pictures, graphs, and charts found in the journal are used to discuss material in the articles.
  • They are usually published by a professional association or organization for purposes of disseminating current information on research and development to a particular field's professionals who are already familiar with the subject area.
  • These journals are not intended for the general public and are therefore seldom found at the local news-stand.
  • They contain scholarly articles which have been submitted to a reviewing board prior to publication. (See front inside cover of the journal for a list of members of the editorial board.)
  • Scholarly articles usually provide a bibliography of cited sources referenced by the author.
  • The content of scholarly journals is typically indexed and/or abstracted in at least one major index, e.g. Current Index to Journals in Education.
    American Political Science Review, Journal of Southern History, Shakespeare Quarterly

Characteristics of Popular Magazines

  • Popular magazines are a marketer's delight. They are colorful, attractive, and contain many pictures and advertisements to catch the reader's eye.
  • Articles are written by journalists, professional or free lance writers. They are shorter in length and written to hold the reader's attention.
  • The intended audience is the general public. They are kept simple and entertaining in order to move quickly off of local newsstands.
  • Authors rarely tell you where their information was obtained or cite their sources in a bibliography.
  • Magazines are published by commercial presses vs. associations or professional organizations.

Business Week, Cosmopolitan, Rolling Stone, Southern Living, Sports Illustrated, Time

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