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Characteristics of Scholarly Journals, Trade Journals and Popular Magazines

Scholarly Journals Professional or Trade Journals Popular Magazines
  • Business Week
  • Economist
  • Glamour Magazine
  • Newsweek
  • People Magazine
  • Popular Science
  • Rolling Stone
  • The Source
  • Time
  • Vibe
  • Have a serious appearance.  The words "Journal," "Transactions," "Proceedings," or "Quarterly," may appear in the title.
  • Written for professors, students or researchers.  Signed by the authors.
  • Articles are reviewed by a board of experts or "peer reviewed."
  • Follow a format:   abstract, literature review, methodology, results, conclusion, possibly footnotes, endnotes and/or bibliography.
  • May include tables, graphs or illustrations to support research.
  • Very little advertising.
  • May have a bright cover.
  • Provide information of use to a particular industry.
  • No specific format.
  • Articles sometimes unsigned.
  • General editors of the magazine review articles.
  • Advertising is used to appeal to those in the field.
  • May have a bright cover with many glossy pictures.
  • Designed to attract a broad segment of the population.
  • No specific format.
  • Articles sometimes unsigned.
  • General editors of the magazine review articles.
  • May include tables, graphs or illustrations.
  • Lots of advertising.

To identify a scholarly journal, also known as a refereed journal, use Ulrich's International Periodical Directory (Ref Z6941 U5) or Magazines for Libraries (Ref PN4832 Z999 K37X). Both titles identify journals that are refereed. Ulrich's International Periodicals Directory is also available electronically.

Scholarly Articles Online

To determine if an online journal is scholarly, look for the following characteristics:

  • Research method is explained
  • Sources are cited
  • Authors are identified and have contact information

Example of an online scholarly journal article from a database


Electronic journals can have a print equivalent or only an electronic version. The majority of electronic scholarly journals are versions of the print titles. Electronic scholarly journals are available online via the Internet and commercial services such as EBSCO Academic Search Complete, LexisNexis Academic, and others.


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