What are Scholarly Articles?

What is a periodical?

The term periodical is a generic term that can include academic journals, popular magazines, professional journals, trade publications and newspapers. Periodicals are published on a regular basis, either daily, weekly, monthly, or annually. They offer news, opinion, commentary, scholarly analysis, literary criticism, and reports of research. They range from brief newsletters published by trade organizations to in-depth journals published by scientific societies and university presses. Most professors at the University level require that all or most of the periodical articles you use in writing research papers come from scholarly journals. This guide lists some comparative criteria that will help you determine if the publications you are using meets your assignment's requirements.

Types of periodicals

Popular periodicals (magazines)
These are the type of publications that you may subscribe to or purchase at the supermarket or bookstore. Articles from popular periodicals are usually not appropriate for assignments.
Scholarly periodicals (journals)
These are the type of publications that are not found in supermarkets or bookstores. The articles are serious in tone and the vocabulary can be difficult to understand.

Why use periodicals?

  • Periodicals are often the best source of information on new or current topics.
  • The subject may be too narrow for publication in a book.
  • Older periodicals contain historical information.
  • In many disciplines periodicals are the major means of communication.

Peer reviewed and Refereed

Peer reviewed
Articles in peer-reviewed journals must pass the scrutiny of reviewers who are experts in the field or on the research topic of the article. In most cases the reviewers do not know who the author of the article is. Not all information in a peer-reviewed journal is reviewed. Editorials, letters to the editor, book reviews, and other types of information don't count as articles.
Articles in refereed journals must be reviewed by scholars or experts in the research topic of the article who are not members of the board or editorial staff of the journal. Peer reviewed and referred journals are frequently used interchangeably.


Criteria Scholarly Journal General Interest Popular Magazines Trade Publications
  JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association National Geographic Sports Illustrated Advertising Age
Audience Researchers and experts in the subject area. Educated audience General public Aimed at people in the industry or organization.
Authors Researchers and experts in the subject area. Names and credentials are provided. Editorial staff, scholars or free-lance writer. Credentials not provided. Staff writer or a free-lance writer.
Credentials often not provided.
Members of trade/profession.
Format Articles often have: abstract, literature review, methodology, results, conclusion, bibliography graphs, tables. Articles long. Attractive in appearance, heavily illustrated generally with photographs. Slick and glossy with an attractive format.
Articles are short, providing broad overview of the topic.
Heavily illustrated with tables, charts and photos.
Language Terminology, jargon and the language of the discipline covered; reader is assumed to have knowledge of the topic. Language appropriate for an educated readership; does not emphasize a specialty but does assume a certain level of education. Slick and glossy with an attractive format.
Articles are short, providing broad overview of the topic.
Language of practitioners in the industry or profession; focuses on practical topics of interest to practitioners.
Purpose To inform, to report, or to share original research, experimentation or scholarship with the rest of the scholarly community. To provide general information to a wide, interested audience. To entertain, persuade or inform the general public. To provide news and information to people in a particular industry or profession.
Publisher A professional organization, a university, or a scholarly press. Commercial enterprises for profit; widely distributed. Commercial publisher. Published for profit and widely distributed. Most often published through a professional association.
References References are always cited and should be expected. Frequently have extensive bibliographies. Occasionally cites sources. May contain vague referrals to "a study published at" or "researchers have found" with no other details Not extensively documented, provide few footnotes, and rarely include bibliographies.
Peer review References are always cited and should be expected. Frequently have extensive bibliographies. Editorial board. None. Article acceptance is based largely on the topic's consumer appeal. Editorial board.