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Journals vs. Magazines: Is it Scholarly?

Professional & Technical / News & General Interest Magazines / Popular Magazines


Scholarly and Academic Journals

Characteristics of scholarly journals:

· Most are indexed in subject-specific databases or print indexes
· Many are published or sponsored by a scholarly society, professional association, or university department
· Most have list of reviewers (editorial board) at the front of the journal (peer-reviewed)
· Most have little or no advertising
· Articles are written in the language of the discipline, and the author assumes the reader has some background knowledge of the discipline

Examples: Journal of Reading, Science, Studies in Short Fiction


Characteristics of a scholarly article:

· The author's credentials are stated
· The title reflects the contents of the article
· An abstract (summary) precedes the article
· Content is based on original research or the research of authorities in the field, not personal opinion
· The sources of information used by the author are cited in endnotes, footnotes, or bibliographies

In addition, a scientific article usually includes the following:

· Supporting diagrams or illustrations
· Introduction or literature review
· Theory or background information
· Statement of subjects discussed
· Methods used
· Results of the study
· Discussion

Professional and Technical Journals

While they may address concerns in professional fields and are intended for practitioners in those fields, professional and technical journals do not have the characteristics of scholarly journals. However, they may be acceptable for undergraduate research. Check with your instructor if you have questions regarding their use.

Examples: Chemical & Engineering News, Aviation Week and Space Technology, Nursing

News and General Interest Magazines

· Usually published by commercial enterprises or individuals, occasionally by professional organizations
· Purpose is to provide information to a broad audience of concerned citizens, not just to scholars
· Language is geared to any educated audience; a specialized vocabulary is not necessary
· Articles are written by a member of the editorial staff, a scholar, or a freelance writer
· Authors sometime cite sources, but usually do not
· Most have an attractive appearance with illustrations and photographs
· Usually have some advertisements
· Often have a political slant

Examples: National Geographic, Time, Smithsonian, U. S. News & World Report, Newsweek

Popular Magazines

· Articles are seldom signed
· Sources are rarely cited - information can be second or third hand, original source may not even be known
· Articles are usually short with little depth
· Often published on slick paper, are attractive with a lot of pictures and graphics, and are full of advertisements
· Published to entertain the reader, sell products, and/or promote a viewpoint

Examples: Ebony, Glamour, Parent's, Reader's Digest, Sports Illustrated, Ladies' Home Journal, McCall's

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