Library Information Guide - Fort Wayne

Distinguishing Scholarly Journals from other Periodicals

Journals, magazines, and newspapers (periodicals) are important sources for timely research, but it is often difficult to distinguish between the various levels of scholarship. General criteria for recognizing the different types of periodicals are as follows:

Scholarly Journals

  • Articles are written by a scholar in the field or by someone who has done research in the field
  • Articles are peer-reviewed – examined and approved of by other scholars in the field
  • Contain many graphs and charts but few glossy pages or exciting pictures
  • Always cite their sources
  • The language includes jargon of the discipline covered as it assumes some scholarly background on the part of the reader
  • Reports original research or experimentation in order to make such information available

Examples of Scholarly Journals:

  • American Economic Review
  • Archives of Sexual Behavior
  • JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association

Trade Publications

  • Articles are written by people who work in the field
  • Authors tend to have reliable experience behind their writing
  • Publications are generally targeted at a very specific audience

Examples of Trade Publications:

  • American Nurseryman
  • U.S. Pharmacist

Substantive News or General Interest

  • Articles may be written by a member of the editorial staff, a scholar or a free lance writer
  • Varied formats including newspapers
  • Heavily illustrated, generally with photographs.
  • Sometimes cite sources, but more often do not
  • Language is geared to an audience with an interest in the topic, not just to experts in the field
  • Main purpose is to provide information, in a general manner, to a broad audience

Examples of Substantive News or General Interest Periodicals:

  • Economist
  • National Geographic
  • New York Times
  • Scientific American

Popular Magazines

  • Articles are usually very short, written in simple language, slick and attractive in appearance
  • Lots of graphics (photographs, drawings, etc.)
  • Rarely, if ever, cites sources
  • Information published is often second or third hand
  • Main purpose is to entertain the reader, to sell products (their own or their advertisers), and/or to promote a viewpoint

Examples of Popular Periodicals:

  • Ebony
  • Readers Digest
  • Sports Illustrated
  • Time

Sensational Publications

  • Often use a newspaper format.
  • Language is elementary and usually inflammatory or sensational
  • Assume that their audience is gullible
  • Main purpose is to arouse curiosity and to cater to popular superstitions
  • Flashy headlines are designed to astonish (e.g. Half-man Half-woman Makes Self Pregnant)

Examples of Sensational Periodicals:

  • Globe
  • National Enquirer
  • Star
  • Weekly World News

What is a Scholarly Journal?

How Do I Find Scholarly (Peer-Reviewed) Articles?

Several databases available through the Ivy Tech library, including EBSCOHost and ProQuest, will allow you to limit your search to only retrieve the contents of scholarly journals. Other databases, such as JSTOR, consist entirely of scholarly journal articles.

These resources can all be accessed through the links below or through the Library website by following these steps.

  1. Sign in to MyIvy and open the library tab to access the Library website.
  2. In the Search & Find section, select Articles.
  3. Choose databases such as EBSCOhost, ProQuest, or JSTOR from the list. JSTOR includes only scholarly journals, but if using EBSCOhost or ProQuest be sure to check the scholarly/peer-reviewed box on the search page.

Please note that not all materials published in scholarly journals are peer-reviewed. Scholarly journals also contain opinion essays, letters to the editor, book reviews, and other forms of writing which are not suitable substitutes for peer-reviewed articles.

For information on how to use EBSCOHost, ProQuest, or another database, use the guides found under the How do I find articles? tab, or refer to the Help link on the database’s homepage.