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What is a Professional Journal?

What is a Professional Journal?

Distinguishing Scholarly from Non-Scholarly Periodicals

 Journals and magazines are important sources for up-to-date information in all subject areas. Access to the large and varied journal collection through L. W. Nixon Library requires the ability to distinguish between the levels of scholarship found both in the print and electronic publications. For the purpose of this guide, types of periodicals have been divided into four separate categories: Scholarly; Substantive News or General Interest; and Popular.

 You may limit your search results in the Ebsco and Infotrac online databases by checking the boxes found on their initial search screens labeled "peer-reviewed" or "refereed publications".

Scholarly Periodicals 

Scholarly journals generally have a serious look. They often contain numerous charts and graphs. They typically do not have glossy pages.

  •     Scholarly journals always cite their sources in either footnotes or bibliographies. 
  •     Articles are written by scholars within specific disciplines.
  •     The language used is specific to discipline covered. It assumes some discipline knowledge on the part of the reader.
  •     The primary purpose is to report on original research, making it available to the rest of the scholars within a discipline.
  •     Many are published by professional associations or universities

 Examples of Scholarly Journals

  • American Economic Review
  • JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association
  • Journal of Social Work Education
  • Journal of Labor Research

Non Scholarly Periodicals

Substantive News or General Interest 

    These may be appealing in appearance. Articles often have numerous photographs.

  •     News and general interest periodicals may or may not cite sources used in articles
  •     Articles may be written by a variety of staff members, scholars, or freelance writers.
  •     The language is geared to interested audiences. No discipline knowledge is assumed.
  •     These periodicals are generally produced by commercial publishers

The primary purpose of these periodicals is to provide information to a broad audience.

 Examples of Substantive News or General Interest Periodicals

  • Economist
  • National Geographic
  • Scientific American
  • Forbes
  • Popular Periodicals

Popular periodicals are published in many formats. They tend to be slick with lots of graphics including photographs, and drawings.

  •     These publications rarely cite sources of information. Information frequently is second or third hand.
  •     Articles tend to be very short with little depth of content and typically written in simple language.
  •     Articles are written by staff members or freelance writers.

    The primary purpose of popular periodicals is entertainment, selling products, and/or promotion of a particular viewpoint. Examples of Popular Periodicals Sports Illustrated Newsweek Good Housekeeping Ebony

 Examples of Popular Periodicals

  • Sports Illustrated
  • Newsweek
  • Good Housekeeping
  • Ebony 

Butler Libraries, Butler Community College 8/01 Updated 11/14

Adapted from the Wallace Library, Rochester Institute of Technology