Magazine or Journal?

To determine whether a source is a magazine, a trade journal or a scholarly journal, you will usually need to have the item in hand. Identifying scholarly journals by title is very tricky. Not all scholarly journals have the word journal in the title and sometimes the word journal is used in titles of non-scholarly sources. When you have the item in hand, go over the table below and see which description most closely matches your item.

Magazines, journals and newspapers are all referred to as periodicals or serials.

Periodical = Serial = a publication that comes out regularly (weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc.) that uses a numbering system that is intended to continue indefinitely


MagazinesTrade JournalsScholarly Journals
Examples:U.S. News & World Report
Science News
Astronomy
Business Week
Advertising Age
The CPA Journal
Billboard
Journal of Music Theory
Genetics
Studies in Romanticism
Human Development
Intent:Report on general interest topics in a broad subject fieldExamine problems or concerns in a particular profession or industryReport original research or experiments in a specific field or discipline
Intended Audience:Educated but non-expert readerPractitioners of a particular profession, trade or industryScholars and researchers
Authors:Staff writers, freelance authors, guest scholarsStaff writers, freelance authors, guest scholarsScholars and researchers
References:Usually do not cite sourcesUsually do not cite sourcesCite sources with footnotes and/or bibliographies
Layout:Glossy paper, photos, cartoons, sidebarsGlossy paper, photos, cartoons, sidebarsPlain paper, tables, figures, charts
Advertising:Many general consumer adsMany ads, usually for products and services related to a specific fieldFewer ads, usually for other journals or special services and products to a specific field