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Types of Periodicals: Home

Distinguishing Scholarly from Non-scholarly Periodicals: A Checklist of Criteria

Types of Periodicals: Introduction

Distinguishing Scholarly from Non-scholarly Periodicals

Journals and magazines, collectively referred to as periodicals, are important sources of up-to-date information in all disciplines. In the future you may need to read a particular type of periodical known as a scholarly or research-oriented journal. This guide is designed to help you distinguish between a scholarly journal and other types of periodicals.

Periodical Classification:

There are four broad categories of periodicals:

  1. scholarly or research-oriented
  2. professional, trade, or industry
  3. news or opinion
  4. popular

Use the information in this guide's chart to help you distinguish between a scholarly journal and other types of periodicals.

Scholarly vs Peer Reviewed?

A scholarly article:

  • is based on original research or experimentation
  • is written by a researcher or expert in the field who is often affiliated with a college or university
  • includes footnotes and/or a bibliography
  • may include graphs or charts as illustrations instead of glossy pictures
  • appears in a scholarly journal published by an academic press

Peer-reviewed journals (or "refereed" journals) are scholarly journals that only publish articles that have passed through a review process during which other scholars in the author's field or specialty read the article and determine the merit of the manuscript. The review process helps ensure that the published articles reflect credible scholarship in their fields. The reputation of the journal depends on the publication of credible scholarship.

If in Doubt:

A periodical may not be clearly within one of the four categories outlined above. If in doubt, see Magazines for Libraries (Ref. Z6941.M23). Use the title index at the back to locate your periodical. Another option is Ulrich's International Periodicals Directory. This is an online resource available to WIU users.

Types of Periodicals: Checklist of Criteria


Scholarly and Research Journals


Professional, Trade and Industry


News or Commentary





To report original research; provide in-depth analysis

To report current trends, news, and events in a particular field, focusing on product, company and biographical information

To report or comment on current events in all areas; often hard to distinguish between fact and opinion

To entertain and inform



Researchers, professors, scholars; author's credentials noted

Journalists; author's credentials infrequently noted

Journalists; author's credentials rarely noted

Journalists; author's credentials rarely noted


College educated or equivalent; assumes background knowledge

Practitioners in the field

General population

General population


Footnotes and bibliographies present

Sources rarely cited, usually noted within article rather than in notes

Sources rarely cited, usually noted within article rather than in notes

Sources rarely cited


Ads are rarely present

Ads relate to the profession/industry

Advertises any and all products

Advertises any and all products


Professional organizations

Commercial/trade publisher or professional organization

Commercial publisher

Commercial publisher


Psychological Bulletin
New Journal of Medicine

Beverage World
Library Journal

Sports Illustrated
New Republic
Psychology Today

People Weekly
Reader's Digest