Skip to main content

Ready, Set, Research: Journal and Article Information

A guide prepared for the Success Center Workshop.

Difference between "Scholarly", "Popular", & "Trade"

Scholarly Journals:

  • Written by and for faculty, researchers and/or scholars
  • Present original research studies and reviews of relevant books in the industry/field
  • Reviewed by other experts or peers (i.e. "peer reviewed") before publication
  • Use technical and/or scholarly language associated with the subject
  • Use citations (footnotes, endnotes, or bibliography/references)
  • Share a similar format including: abstract, literature review, methodology, results and conclusion.  May also have tables, graphs or illustrations to support arguments made
  • Examples: American Journal of Nursing, Journal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering, etc.

Technical/Trade Journals:

  • Written by professionals and/or experts in the field
  • Present practical information for professionals in the field, including news, trends, job opportunities, and other updates 
  • Articles are generally brief and the language is straightforward; may contain professional jargon
  • May not have a specific format
  • Articles are sometimes unsigned or will display the author's credentials
  • Reviewed by general editors of the journal
  • Advertising is used to appeal to those in the field
  • Examples: Adweek, The Lawyer, Nursing Times, etc.

Popular Magazines:

  • Written for the general public with easy to understand language and subject appeal
  • Glossy cover and photographs
  • Many advertisements in the publication
  • Articles are edited by magazine editors 
  • May not have a discernable format
  • Authors are usually professional journalists, but may not have any experience/knowledge in the field about which they are writing 
  • May not have citations or may provide informal citations (even when there are tables, graphs and/or illustrations)
  • Examples:  TIME, Rollingstone, Newsweek, Psychology Today, People, etc.
  • YOU CAN STILL USE POPULAR PERIODICALS FOR YOUR RESEARCH(unless stated by your instructor and these do NOT count as scholarly peer-reviewed articles)! Just make sure to support your use of these articles with scholarly articles, which will have original research and in-depth citations to ensure your information is relevant, accurate and up-to-date  

Hunter Library has a great comparison of these types of articlesavailable for more information: http://researchguides.wcu.edu/scholarly

OR watch the following quick, fun video from Kimbel Library about popular vs. scholarly sources (there are sock puppets involved!): http://vimeo.com/13186317

Search for articles on a specific topic

Library databases (also called indexes) are like search engines (but search journal, magazine, newspapers and other sources), usually dealing with a broad subject.

  • Library databases help you search for articles on a particular topic
  • Some library databases provide the full text of the article.
  • Some contain records for government documents, books/ book chapters, dissertations, theses or images

Use the Databases A-Z  guide to see all database available to you. 

If you have citation information or journal title

Database Helps & Tutorials