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Evaluating Sources: Journal Type Comparison

A guide to evaluating information and resources found online and in print.

Journals Comparison Chart

Scholarly vs. Popular Periodicals (Vanderbilt University)

Types of Periodicals

Not all articles are written at the same level or for the same audience. It's crucial to choose the type of periodical that contains articles specific to your research!

Peer-reviewed / Refereed

  • Reviewed anonymously by researchers in the same field before publication
  • Report original research, discoveries, experimentation, reviews, or essays
  • Are written by and for scholars and researchers in the field, and aimed at scholarly readers such as professors, scientists, and advanced students
  • Often contain graphs, statistics, case studies
  • Are often published by academic or association presses
  • Heavily cited with footnotes or bibliography

Example:

Scholarly Journals

  • Report original research, discoveries, experimentation, reviews, or essays
  • Are written by and for scholars and researchers in the field, and aimed at scholarly readers such as professors, scientists, and advanced students
  • Heavily cited with footnotes or bibliography
  • Often contain graphs, statistics, case studies
  • Often published by academic or association presses
  • Contain selective advertising
  • Reviewed by an editorial board before publication

Example:

Trade Journals

  • Focus on a specific profession or industry
  • Written for professional or trade-associated audiences by scholars, freelance writers, or magazine staff
  • Published by professional or trade associations
  • Articles occasionally cite sources
  • Articles may include photographs, illustrations, industry-specific statistics, and information

Example:

Popular Magazines

  • Written and designed to entertain or persuade
  • Usually written by professional journalists or writers for a general audience
  • Articles tend to be short, although some magazines feature lengthy stories or special reports
  • Rarely cite sources or contain a bibliography
  • Published by commercial, for-profit presses
  • Contain photographs and illustrations to enhance appeal
  • May contain extensive advertising

Example:

Tabloid Magazines (Sensational Publications)

  • Can be either magazines or newspapers
  • Rarely cite sources of information
  • Written in an easy to read manner to arouse curiosity and often stretch or twist the truth
  • Produced in a tabloid-size, newspaper format
  • May contain advertising that may be as strange as the stories
  • Articles are not indexed and are rarely found in libraries
  • Sometimes referred to as "yellow journalism"

Example: