Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

The Research Process: A Step-By-Step Guide: 3c. Types of Periodicals

This guide walks you through the steps of the research process.

Comparing scholarly journals, popular, opinion, and trade magazines

Comparing scholarly journals, popular, opinion, and trade magazines








Scholarly Journals print and online

Trade/ Professional Journals





Medium to long

Medium to long



Discusses a specific scholarly field; original research, in-depth studies, reviews of scholarly books; articles usually contain abstracts

Industry or field-specific news, product reviews, forecasts and trends, book reviews

Social and political commentaries, interviews, opinion pieces, book reviews

Current events, popular culture, interviews; broad coverage of topics, general interest items

Article Authors

Scholars, academics, researchers; authors are always named

Professionals, practitioners, some journalists

All types; academics, journalists, politicians; authors are often paid for their work

Usually journalists and free-lance writers; student, popular author; authors are not always named; most authors are paid for their work


Cited Works

A list of references is included at the end of each article

May include citations

May include citations

Articles rarely include references, bibliographies or lists of works cited



May contain charts, graphs, or (in the sciences) photographs or illustrations that support the text

Photographs, illustrations, tables, and charts (often glossy)

May be heavily illustrated

Many eye-catching photographs and illustrations that have marketing appeal; usually glossy


Scholars, academics, researchers.

Members of a trade, profession, business, or industry

Educated readers

General public. Basic reading level for a general audience; broad and simple language, general topics, written to be understood by almost anyone


Advanced reading level; may have specialized vocabulary; higher level language, serious tone, words used are specific to a discipline, written by experts

Technical jargon

Non-technical Language

Non-technical language


Articles are listed in specialized databases and indexes; for example PsycINFO,



Articles are listed in general databases and indexes; for example Reader’s guide, Periodicals Index


Academic presses, scholarly associations

Trade associations

Non-profit organizations or commercial publishers

Commercial publishers


Generally sent to subscribing university libraries, labs or offices

Generally sent to office of subscribers

Generally sent to subscribers or sold on newstands

Sold on newsstands or sent to homes of subscribers


Very little or highly specialized; usually from academic publishers or scholarly associations

May include glossy ads

Often have glossy ads

Many full-color glossy ads for consumer products

Review Policy

Articles are viewed by peers; experts in the field. Editorial board is composed of scholars in the field



Editor or editorial board are members of the magazine’s staff







Chart design inspired by many library charts including Colorado State University Libraries and Springfield Township Virtual Library.

Subject Guide

Profile Photo
Lynda Kennedy
Clara Wood Gould Memorial Library

College of Coastal Georgia

One College Drive

Brunswick, GA 31520