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Identifying Scholarly Journals vs. Other Periodicals

What is a Scholarly Journal?

Scholarly journals are often referred to as peer-reviewed, juried, or refereed sources. Respected scholars in the respective disciplines evaluate and certify the quality of the scholarship contained in these journals. The format for scholarly journals varies from discipline to discipline.
Several criteria should be considered in determining if a source is scholarly in nature:

  • Footnotes and Endnotes: These notes indicate the sources of the information quoted by authors and are essential in determining the currency and accuracy of information contained in the article.
  • Bibliographies: Bibliographies are lists of sources consulted by authors when researching and writing articles; bibliographies also provide readers further sources for research.
  • Publisher: Scholarly journals are almost always produced by an institution or university press, not by a company for profit.
  • Date of Publication: Scholarly journals may be published monthly, quarterly, or seasonally, but are almost never issued on a daily or weekly basis. The date of publication is critical in determining the currency of information presented in the article.
  • In-depth Coverage: As they offer extensive information on a given subject or topic, scholarly journal articles are usually longer than two or three pages.
  • Professional Appearance: Publications printed on glossy paper and containing many photographs and advertisements are generally not considered scholarly.

Examples of scholarly journals at Lovejoy Library include:

Art Bulletin • International Nursing Review Journal of Accountancy • Research in Education

What is a Periodical?

Periodicals are any publications that are issued at regular intervals, such as journals, popular magazines, and newspapers. They are also often referred to as serials. Periodicals usually consist of a collection of articles that may range from a single column in a newspaper to a multi-page study in a scholarly journal.
Depending upon the desired information, periodicals can offer several advantages over books:

  • Current Coverage: As they are published frequently, periodicals are the best source for information on current events or topics and often contain information on the latest trends, products, research, and theories.
  • Scope: Periodicals can be either scholarly or popular and specialized or general in coverage.
  • Topical: Periodicals exist for every field and interest, providing access to a variety of hard-to-find information.
  • Length: Due to the abbreviated length of periodical articles, more topics may be covered within one volume of a periodical than in one book.

Examples of periodicals at Lovejoy Library include:

Christian Science Monitor • Economist • Ms. • Newsweek • Scientific American • USA Today.

What are the Characteristics of Periodical Literature?

Below are some characteristics of different types of periodical literature. Being aware of these differences assists in the selection of the most appropriate sources for research needs. Note: This is a general guideline and may not be applicable to a specific periodical. Ask a librarian for additional assistance in categorizing a particular title.

Scholarly journals are often referred to as refereed, juried or peer-reviewed sources. Several of Lovejoy Library's databases allow users to limit their searches to retrieve only scholarly articles. Consult Ulrich's Periodicals Directory (Ref Z 6941 .U5 2002 v.5), located in the library's Ready Reference section, to determine if a journal is considered scholarly.

FORMAT/STYLE Serious / Formal Attractive / Semi-informal Many visuals / Informal Newspaper / Various
GRAPHICS Contains graphs, tables, and charts with few photographs Includes photographs and other graphics Contains photographs, illustrations, and other graphics Contains melodramatic photographs
SOURCES / DOCUMENTATION Sources cited with footnotes and/or bibliographies Sources occasionally cited for additional information Citations or bibliography rarely provided and original sources can be obscure Sources are rarely cited
Scholars or researchers in the field or discipline; intended for scholars or researchers in respective field or discipline
Staff, scholars, professionals in the field, or free-lance writers; intended for an educated, general audience
Not always identified
Publication's staff or journalists; intended for a broad audience
Not always identified
Free-lance writers or publication's staff; intended for an impressionable reader
LANGUAGE Uses terminology or jargon specific to respective discipline Appropriate for an educated readership Simple Simple
PURPOSE / SCOPE Informs, reports or makes available original research or experimentation Provides general and / or specialized information Entertains or persuades and occasionally utilized to sell products or services Arouses curiosity by twisting the truth
PUBLISHERS Published by an academic press or professional organization Published by commercial enterprises for profit Published commercial / trade organizations for profit. Published for profit
ADVERTISEMENTS Selective / Rare Some Extensive Melodramatic
EXAMPLES Art Bulletin Research in Education Shakespeare Quarterly Politics and Society Economic Journal Christian Science Monitor Economist Scientific American Anthropology Today American Biology Teacher People Weekly Newsweek National Geographic Ms. Psychology Today Star National Enquirer Globe

For additional assistance contact Lydia Jackson, Instruction Librarian ( or 618-650-2604) or the Information Desk (618-650-INFO).

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