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Research Process: A Step-By-Step Guide: 3c. Types of Periodicals

This guide walks you through the steps of the research process.

Tip!

It can be difficult to distinguish between the various types of periodicals when they are in electronic format. Luckily, many databases allow researchers to search or sort results by publication type.

On the search interface of the database, look for options to limit your results by scholarly journals, academic journals, peer-reviewed journals, magazines, newspapers, along with many others.

Use the information below for assistance with distinguishing types of periodicals.

Academic Journals (Scholarly)

Also known as scholarly, refereed, or peer-reviewed journals.

Appearance: Generally have a sober, serious look. May contain graphs and charts, but few glossy pages or photographs. Use scholarly language with vocabulary specific to their profession or field.

Audience: Written for academics and professionals.

Author/Authority: Articles written by researchers or scholars in the field who report the results of original research.

Citations: Articles often include footnotes and a list of citations at the end of the article.

Content: Includes scholarly research for a particular profession or industry. Articles usually contain an abstract, methodology, discussion, charts or tables, results, conclusions, and references.

Frequency: Usually published bimonthly or quarterly.

Examples:

               

If you are not in the habit of reading scholarly journal articles, they can be difficult to read and understand. Jennifer Naff's Violent Methaphors blog offers some sound advice and an example.
 

Magazines (Substantive)

Appearance: Generally attractive and are often illustrated with color photographs.

Audience: Written for an educated but non-expert audience.

Author/Authority: Articles written by staff writers, though the magazine may sometimes accept articles from professionals in the field.

Citations: Occasionally list references at the end of the article or provide footnotes within the text.

Content: Includes current events and special features within a particular field.

Frequency: Usually published weekly or monthly.

Examples:

               

Distinguishing Types of Periodicals

How to Identify Scholarly Journal Articles from Cornell University:

 

How to Identify Substantive News Articles from Cornell University:

Newspapers (Substantive)

Appearance: Generally printed on newsprint in black ink.

Audience: Written for the general public.

Author/Authority: Articles written by staff writers and freelance journalists.

Citations: Will sometimes cite sources, a scholar, or a freelance writer.

Content: Includes current events and special features.

Frequency: Usually published daily or weekly.

Examples:

    

General Interest Magazines (Popular)

Appearance: Generally attractive and illustrated with color photographs.

Audience: Written for the general public.

Author/Authority: Articles written by staff or freelance writers.

Content: Includes broad coverage of current interest.

Frequency: Usually published weekly or monthly.

Examples: