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Popular Sources vs. Scholarly Journals

What is a periodical?

Periodicals is a term used for any materials published at regular intervals or periodically (daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc.) There are several types of periodicals (magazines, journals, newspapers,) found in academic library collections.

Popular periodicals are called magazines (and newspapers) and scholarly periodicals are called journals. Trade jourals are usually specific to an industry or group.

Knowing something about the characteristics of each type--popular magazine, scholarly journal , or trade--will help in identifying the appropriate type of periodical for your research.

Scholarly vs. Popular Sources


This graphic is adapted from a guide by Pao You-Kong Library at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University


Want more information? This video goes into more detail...

Source: Vanderbilt University, Peabody Library

Trade Journals

What is a trade journal?

  • A publication intended for a very specific audience, usually managers or administrators in a particular industry (e.g. Brandweek, Constructor, or Food Management).
  • Issued weekly or monthly to take advantage of fast-breaking changes in products or technology.
  • Contain regular columns of news and commentary, as well as lengthier articles about current issues and trends of interest to people in the field.
  • Include articles written by specialists or journalists.
Last Updated: Jan 29, 2024 3:18 PM