Scholarly, Trade and Popular Journals

Research Steps 5

Determing Different Types of Journals

There are three main journal types found in most libraries.
  1. Scholarly, also known as peer-reviewed, academic or refereed journals.
  2. Trade or Professional Journals
  3. Popular Journals

Scholarly Journals

Audience is usually professors or researchers in particular academic fields, though may also include professionals in those fields.

Often as part of assignments in an academic setting a professor may request that you use scholarly journals. The purpose of these journals is to:
  • Disseminate new findings and the results of studies, experiments, theories, etc. They may also review and critique these studies and findings.
These journals and the articles in them are usually written/edited by professors or researchers. Articles are submitted and go through a review  and editing process which can often be quite lengthy (often a few months or more). The articles are reviewed by a panel of "experts",. These are often other professors who are familiar with the subject being written about. Thus, they are sometimes called "peer reviewed".

Some attributes which can help you identlfy scholarly journals are as follows:
  •  “Journal”, “Transactions”,” Proceedings”, "Review" or “Quarterly” may appear in title of the journal. These titles often refer to an academic discipline or specialized field of study.
  • Examples: Journal of the American Medical Association, Journal of Abnormal Psychology, Anthropological Quarterly.
  •  Format usually includes: brief abstract of 50-200 words describing the article, keywords which can be used as search terms, description of methodology used, results/observations, a conclusion or summary, footnotes, endnotes and/or bibliography
  •  Articles are usually lengthy, often five pages or more with sophisticated language and the jargon of a particular academic discipline.
  • Author affiliations with academic institutions or research centers are often listed in the beginning of the article.
  • Have in-text citations (example: Marks (2005). which use others work to support or refute a point or provide background research.
  • Indexed, abstracted and some full-text found in subject specific databases such as: Academic Search Premier, Science Direct, JStor, Project Muse, SportsDiscus, etc.
  • May have charts, graphs, tables and formulas.
  • Entire issue of the journal may be focused on a particular topic
  • Advertising usually limited to books & conference announcements.
  • Pages are usually black and white and numbered consecutively in each volume.
  • Issues may be montly, but more often semi-monthly or quarterly.
  • Plain covers-vary little issue to issue. Pages usually a matte or flat finish (if in paper).

Trade or Professional Journals

Authors are usually specialists in the field or industry, some journalists.
Aimed at a particular profession or industry
: Meant to inform people in that industry of current news and happenings.

Examples: Restaurant Business, MediaWeek, Advertising Age,

Attributes to look for:
  • Title usually has name of industry or profession in it.
  • Articles usually short to medium length of an informational nature having to do with up-to-date industry news, product announcements, opinions/editorial pieces, promotions, legislative or regulatory issues, etc.
  • Authors are usually specialists in the field, though some may be journalists who specialize in that particular industry.
  • Usually published monthly though some may be weekly. May use industry jargon though they are usually understood by most readers. Articles not as sophisticated as "scholarly journals".
  • Indexed, abstract and some full-text in such databases as: Business Source Premier, Business & Company Resource Center, Lexis/Nexis, CINAHL, ABI/Inform.
  • May have a bright and glossy cover and pages.
  • Illustrations and photos are included, also charts & graphs.
  • Advertising of specific products/services aimed at industry/professionals including conferences and trade shows.

Popular Journals

Provide the reader with news, feature stories, opinion/editorial pieces, entertainment value. Meant to inform and amuse.

Examples: Time, People Magazine, Rolling Stone, Vogue, Economist

Attributes usually include the following:
  • Usually a bright, glossy cover which is eye-catching.
  • Published at least monthly, though some may be weekly.
  • Articles short to medium length in easy to understand language.
  • Lots of advertising of mostly consumer products. May account for more than half the total pages. Publications are supported by advertising revenue.
  • Contains numerous illustrations and photos.
  • Authors usually magazine staff members or free-lance writers.
  • No peer-reviewed process for articles.
  • Indexed, abstracted and often full-text content found in general purpose databases such as General OneFile, Lexis/Nexis Academic, ProQuest Direct.
  • Citations and bibliographies are rare.