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Scholarly vs Popular: Understanding the Differences   Tags: popular_journals, scholarly, trade_publications  

Journals and magazines are important sources for up-to-date information in all disciplines.
Last Updated: Sep 14, 2016 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

Differences Defined Print Page

About Popular, Trade, & Scholarly Publications

Periodicals are usually separated into several major groups:

  • popular
  • trade
  • scholarly

If you are able to recognize the differences between these sources, you can focus your research to retrieve only the type of information you need.


Distinguishing Scholarly Journals from Other Periodicals

Popular Magazines

These journals have:

  • slick and glossy with an attractive format
  • provide information in a general manner to a broad audience
  • no footnotes and/or a bibliography at the end of the article
  • have articles that are written by a staff or free-lance writer
  • have short articles, written in simple language, with little depth
  • a purpose to entertain and inform the general public
  • extensive advertising

Some examples of popular magazines include: People, Vogue, Good HouseKeeping, Reader's Digest, The New York TImes

Trade Publications

These journals have:

  • articles written by experts in the field for other experts in the field
  • aimed at people in a particular industry or profession providing news, product information, advertising and trade articles
  • specialized jargon of the discipline
  • graphics and photographs
  • been published by a professional association

Some examples of trade publications include: Coach & Bus Weekly, Packaging Digest, Cosmetics International

Scholarly Journals

Sometimes referred to as academic or peer-reviewed, these journals have:

  • a severe appearance often with charts and graphs; none or very few glossy photos
  • articles written by a scholar in the field, discipline or specialty
  • reports on original research or experimentation
  • articles that use subject specific terminology and language
  • articles that use in-text citations, footnotes and/or have a bibliography
  • no selective advertising

Examples of scholarly journals include: International Journal of Nursing and Midwifery, Journal of Languages and Culture,Journal of Geology and Mining Research



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