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Tarleton State University Libraries Unit 6
COMPARING TYPES OF PERIODICALS
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image of periodicals   Periodicals include several different publication types (i.e. general interest magazines, newspapers, popular magazines, scholarly journals, and trade journals). Each type has specific purposes, intended readers, and characteristics. Distinguishing between periodical types is important when evaluating sources because it helps you choose the ones that best fit the scope and intent of your research.

You are probably familiar with the characteristics of newspapers, but may be less familiar with other periodical types. Therefore, the following tables list characteristics of some major periodical types: scholarly journals, trade magazines & trade journals, and popular & general interest magazines.

Please note that some periodicals are not easily classified and may have characteristics of more than one type. For example, Omni Magazine has characteristics common to both scholarly journals (scholarly articles) and general interest magazines (glossy pages with colorful pictures and illustrations).


APPEARANCE
Scholarly
Journals
 • plain cover (usually)   • plain paper
 • black and white illustrations (usually charts & graphs)
 • consecutive page numbering throughout each volume (often)
Trade Journals &
Trade Magazines
 • cover depicts industrial or professional setting
 • glossy paper   • color pictures and illustrations
 • each issue starts with page 1
Popular &
General Interest
Magazines
 • eye-catching cover
 • glossy paper   • color pictures and illustrations
 • each issue starts with page 1
 
INTENDED AUDIENCE
Scholarly
Journals
 • researchers, scholars, experts, professionals
 • university & college students and faculty
Trade Journals &
Trade Magazines
 • people in specific trades, industries, or professions
 • employment seekers in specific industries
Popular &
General Interest
Magazines
 • nonprofessionals
 • the general public
 • educated & interested public
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AUTHOR CREDENTIALS
Scholarly
Journals
 • authors are experts or authorities in their fields
 • author's credentials are given
Trade Journals &
Trade Magazines
 • authors are field/industry specialists & expert staff writers
 • author's credentials are usually given
Popular &
General Interest
Magazines
 • authors are usually freelance writers, staff writers & journalists
 • occasionally authors are scholars
 • often the articles are unsigned & no credentials are given
 
PURPOSE OF THE PERIODICAL
Scholarly
Journals
 • add to a body of research
 • give research findings & guide future research
 • explore theories   • distribute knowledge
 • present new ideas   • invite discussion
Trade Journals &
Trade Magazines
 • add practical knowledge/information in an industry/profession
 • provide industry news, contacts & updates
 • keep readership informed
Popular &
General Interest
Magazines
 • make money & act as a vehicle for advertisers
 • provide general interest information to a wide audience
 • entertain   • promote a viewpoint
 • sell advertising, products & subscriptions
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TYPICAL TYPES OF CONTENT
Scholarly
Journals
 • original research   • methods section & theory discussion
 • annotated bibliographies & research and literature reviews
 • usually include abstracts of the articles
 • terminology & jargon of the discipline
Trade Journals &
Trade Magazines
 • industry trends and forecasts, organizational news,
 • new products or techniques & job opening announcements
 • may present original research and/or industry research
 • terminology and jargon of the industry or trade
Popular &
General Interest
Magazines
 • information about popular culture, personalities
 • news & general interest topics
 • editorials on current events, world affairs & politics
 • usually present what others have done, not primary research
 • language suited for a general, educated audience
 
AMOUNT & TYPE OF ADVERTISING
Scholarly
Journals
 • few or none
 • may have ads for conferences, job openings, professional publications & other journals
Trade Journals &
Trade Magazines
 • moderate
 • all or most ads are trade related
 • ads are directed to specific trades, industries & professions
Popular &
General Interest
Magazines
 • heavy (usually)
 • advertising type and amount depend on the magazine and its intended audience
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TYPE OF PUBLISHER
Scholarly
Journals
 • professional organizations and scholarly associations,
 • research institutes and academic presses
Trade Journals &
Trade Magazines
 • trade or professional associations/organizations
 • corporate or commercial presses
Popular &
General Interest
Magazines
 • commercial presses
 • specific interest groups
 
ARTICLE REVIEW PROCESS & ACCOUNTABILITY
Scholarly
Journals
 • peer review*
 • document all outside information
 • footnotes, endnotes, or bibliography (often lengthy)
 • maybe a list of "additional readings"
Trade Journals &
Trade Magazines
 • editorial review
 • sources often mentioned, but usually not formally documented
 • may have limited bibliography
Popular &
General Interest
Magazines
 • editorial review
 • may just mention sources or use unidentified sources
 • may give a "suggested readings" list
 • usually no formal bibliography or footnotes
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EXAMPLES
Scholarly
Journals
 • Strategy & Leadership   • Academy of Management Journal
 • Central Business Review   • Human Resources Journal
Trade Journals &
Trade Magazines
 • Industry Week   • Affirmative Action Register
 • John Liner Review   • Office Personnel Report
Popular &
General Interest
Magazines
 • Fortune   • U.S. News and World Report
 • Forbes   • Commitment   • Perdido   • Ragged Edge
 • American Venture: For Entrepreneurs and Accredited Investors

*A Note about Peer Review: The term "peer review" refers to the process of having a panel of experts evaluate submitted articles before the articles are accepted (or rejected) for publication. This process involves fact-checking and examining the writers' claims and calculations, as well as investigating the writers' assumptions and conclusions. Having a peer review process helps researchers trust that the information presented in an article is sound and of high quality. Sometimes the terms "refereed" and "juried" are used instead of peer review, but both refer to the same process.

Some information for this page was obtained, with permission, from the following pages:
•  Colorado State University Libraries' web page created by Naomi Lederer
Popular Magazines VS Trade Magazines VS Scholarly Journals
•  Bowling Green State University's web page
Scholarly Journals, Popular Magazines, and Trade Publications
 
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Updated 5/2005