Periodicals: Popular And Scholarly
- What is a periodical? A periodical is a publication with multiple articles which appears more than once, usually on a regular basis. Articles from periodicals provide more recent information than books, since they can be published more quickly.
- Magazines, scholarly journals and newspapers are all periodicals. Being aware of the different types helps you select the most appropriate one for your research needs. The distinguishing features of each are outlined in the table below. Magazines and newspapers are sometimes referred to as popular material, because they are written for a general audience.
- You should use journal articles when you need focused, up-to-date information on a topic. In general, you should use scholarly sources for your research because they provide a greater depth of information. However, in some cases it is also acceptable to use popular sources such as newspapers. Check with your professor.
|CHARACTERISTICS OF PERIODICALS||POPULAR||SCHOLARLY|
|NAME: What type of periodical?||Magazine, Newspaper||Journal|
|AUTHOR: Who writes an article published in the periodical?||Journalist, Reporter, Writer||Scholar, Expert, Researcher, Scientist|
|AUDIENCE: Who is the intended reader or buyer of the periodical?||General Public, Everyone||Scholar, Expert, Researcher, Scientist, College Student, Graduate Student|
|ARTICLE LENGTH: Generally how long is a feature article?||Short, One to Five pages||Long; Ten pages or more|
|FREQUENCY: How often is the periodical published?||Daily, Weekly, Monthly||Per Year: Annual (1), Semi-Annual (2), Quarterly (4), Monthly (10-12)|
|APPROVAL PROCESS: Who approves a manuscript before it is actually published?||Editor or a few Editors||Peers or Referees; other Scholars, Experts, Researchers, Scientists who serve as readers to review manuscripts before they are accepted for publication; most journals have such a process, those which do are called Peer-Reviewed or Refereed|
|LANGUAGE: Is the writing at a high or low reading level?||Common Language, Everyday Language; 6th to 8th Grade Reading Level||Higher level reading; Detail oriented, with language which is sophisticated, specialized, technical|
|SUPPORTING MATERIALS: Does an article routinely have a list of sources at the end of the article which the writer consulted?||Pictures, Illustrations, Graphics||Scholarly Apparatus: footnotes, endnotes, bibliography, reading or reference list, charts, graphs, tables|
|ACCESSIBILITY: How easy or difficult is it to obtain or access the periodical? Where is it accessed?||Easy to access; Newsstand, Deli, Grocery Store, Bodega, Supermarket||Purchase at bookstore, e.g. Barnes & Noble; Academic or Research Library, sometimes Public Library|
|COST: How much does the periodical cost? Expensive or inexpensive?||For Profit, but Inexpensive||Non-Profit, but Expensive|
Examples of magazines include: Time, Newsweek and Sports Illustrated.
Examples of newspapers are: The New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal.
Examples of scholarly journals are: American Historical Review, Social Psychology Quarterly and The Art Bulletin.
When writing a research paper, it is acceptable to use some popular material, such as magazine and newspaper articles, but your paper should not be based solely on popular literature sources. It is a good idea to consult with your professor about the types of sources that he or she feels are appropriate to the assignment.
If our library doesn't own an article online, we may have a print equivalent, or you may be able to get a copy through Interlibrary Loan.
Courtesy Prof. James Mellone
For more information, please see Cornell University's guide to distinguishing scholarly journals from other materials.