• Download the link for Scholarly and Non-Scholarly Journals 

    Journals and magazines are important sources for up-to-date information in all disciplines. For many course assignments, you will be required to use authoritative scholarly sources. Therefore, it is very important for you to be able to distinguish scholarly writing from other types of writing. In order to do so, you will need to become familiar with different types of journals and magazines.

    "Periodical" is a general term used to refer to the following types of publications:

    • Journals (scholarly)
    • Magazines (general interest/substantive and popular)
    • Newspapers (local, national, and international)

    Periodicals are published serially or periodically, not just once (as is the case with books) and may be classified into the following three basic categories, each of which reflects significant differences in style, content and audience:

    General Interest/Substantive

    Keeping in mind that the lines drawn between types of periodicals aren't always totally clear-cut, the general characteristics of these three categories of journals are summarized in the chart below: 


    Comparison Chart: Periodicals - Scholarly or Non-Scholarly?












    General Interest/ Substantive



    Scholars in the discipline or those who have done extensive research in the field such as university professors or government/research agencies or organizations

    Written by magazine's staff (who may or may not be experts on the topic), scholars, or free-lance writers

    Written by staff or free-lance writers employed by the publication


    Uses language of the discipline, which may be difficult to understand at first, because it may contain specialized, technical or professional language.

    Uses language aimed at a general, educated audience

    Uses everyday language, or even inflammatory or sensational language aimed at a broad-based audience


    Authors rigorously cite sources in the form of footnotes or bibliographies

    May quote other experts on the topic but not explain who they are, or give statistics or "facts", but not say where they came from

    Rarely cites sources; original sources can be obscure


    Main purpose is to educate; to report on original research or experimentation in order to share with other scholars

    Provides general information to a wide audience

    Written to entertain, inform, or provoke a reaction

    Publisher/Editorial Board

    Many are published by a specific professional organization. Editorial board evaluates the article for its quality of writing, rigorous scholarship, analysis, or research and findings before accepting them for publication.

    Generally published by commercial enterprises for profit

    Published by commercial enterprises for profit

    Peer-reviewed or Refereed

    Have a process prior to publishing an article whereby other scholars in the author's field or specialty critically assess article draft.

    Not peer-reviewed/refereed

    Not peer-reviewed/refereed


    Few pictures or photographs, but may have charts, tables, or graphs

    Attractive in appearance; includes photographs, illustrations to enhance appeal

    Slick and glossy with an attractive format; contains photographs, illustrations to enhance appeal


    Harvard Business Review, Journal of the American Anthropological Society, Modern Fiction Studies

    Fortune, New York Times, Scientific American, Wall Street Journal, National Geographic

    Better Homes and Gardens, Glamour, Sports Illustrated, Star Weekly

    Originally written by Martha Johansen, Humboldt State University


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