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What are Scholarly Journals?

Scholarly journals may also be called Academic, Refereed or Peer-Reviewed Journals. The purpose of a scholarly journal is to provide information about a specialized or researched topic in a report, study or experiment.
  Scholarly, Academic, Refereed or Peer-Reviewed Journals Popular Magazines and Newspapers Trade Publications
Article Contents In-depth research on specialized or technical topics; usually includes an abstract; academic book reviews; news on developments or recent research in a specific field of study; may be lengthy (+20 pages) Brief, current events, news, or general events; quick facts; short interviews; brief book reviews, advertisements Product reviews; statistics for specific industry; new publications; patents
Article Purpose Provide information about original research or experiments; report new findings in field of research Provide general information, entertain, or to persuade general public Provide news or information to practitioners in an industry or trade
Authors Expert with significant knowledge in area of study, scholars, researchers, practitioners; author(s) clearly identified Journalist or layperson; not always identified; staff writers Staff writers, practitioners in the trade; not always identified
Audience Professors, researchers, practitioners and students; other professionals in the field of study General public Intended for those interested in specific industry or trade
Style Specialized or technical vocabulary and language; formal or semi-formal Written for the average layperson; informal; language easy to understand May use specialized or technical vocabulary and language; informal
Publisher Usually a university or professional organization Usually commercial Usually commercial
Frequency Quarterly or monthly Weekly or monthly Monthly, quarterly, or semiannually
Documentation Footnotes and/or bibliography Few or no footnotes Suggested additional resources; sometimes a bibliography
Editing Contents are reviewed by outside scholars or practitioners- "peers" Contents are reviewed by magazine editor(s) Contents are reviewed by editor(s)
Advertisements Usually none; if present then they may be for books or other journals in field of study Many, usually in glossy format in magazines Many ads for products or services for specific industry or trade
Appearance Plain, little use of color; few pictures; may include charts, graphs, tables or equations; mostly text Glossy photographs, ads, and images Black and white or color images, graphs, and/or charts
Examples Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, Urban Studies Time, Newsweek, Business Week, Psychology Today Workforce, EETimes, APA Monitor
A journal cannot be defined merely by one or two characteristics, nor must all characteristics be present to make it a journal. Look for a majority of the characteristics listed above. If in doubt, ask your instructor or a reference librarian.

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Piper Cumbo, General Reference Librarian
Updated 5/08; 12/05; 1/05; 12/03; 12/02
Originally Created by Richard H. Harrison, 7/00

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