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Peer-Reviewed/Scholarly Journals vs. Popular Journals

The term periodical is used to refer to several different types of publications, including: newspapers, magazines, and journals.

The term "journal" is generally shorthand for scholarly or peer-reviewed journals. Even though not all scholarly journals follow a strict peer-review editorial process, the terms scholarly journal or peer-reviewed journal are often used interchangeably within article databases and indicate that the journal publishes research or academic articles. 

When searching for scholarly journal articles, limit your searches by selecting the scholarly journals checkbox on a database search screen.

Note: many scholarly journals publish commentaries, reviews, letters to the editor, and various other types of articles that may not be considered scholarly, (this is why selecting the scholarly journals checkbox when searching an online database is not a foolproof method for locating peer-reviewed, research-based journal articles).

Use the table below to help you identify whether an article is scholarly or popular: 

   Scholarly Publication Popular Publication
Examples: British Medical Journal, Modern Fiction Studies, Journal of Accounting Research New York Times, Newsweek
Author  Is a noted scholar or professional in a specialized field Usually a journalist; sometimes a specific author may not even be listed
Advertising in Journal / Magazine Very little and highly specialized Significant advertising
Bibliography, Works Cited List of references is included for each article  Articles do not include works cited
Review Policy Articles are reviewed by experts in the field of the specified journal. Editorial board is comprised of scholars.  

Editorial board is the staff of the publication.

Audience Aimed at audience with specialized knowledge and vocabulary.  Aimed at general audience.
Purpose Articles describe unique research studies in a specific scholarly field. Informative, current events-oriented, general interest stories.