DISTINGUISHING BETWEEN SCHOLARLY AND NON-SCHOLARLY PERIODICALS
SCHOLARLY
*(aka "Peer-Reviewed/Refereed")
SUBSTANTIVE POPULAR
Examples Journal of Asian Studies
Modern Fiction Studies
Semiotica
National Geographic 
New York Times
Psychology Today
Time
Vanity Fair
Working Woman
Purpose
&
Use
  • Disseminate knowledge.
  • Reports of original research.
  • In-depth analysis of topics.
  • Statistical information.
  • For profit.
  • Current events and news.
  • Introduction to a subject.
  • Interviews.
  • Analysis and opinion.
  • For profit.
  • Current  events and news.
  • Overview of topic.
  • Entertainment.
  • Sell products. 
Audience Reader knows the field.
(professor, student, specialist, etc.)
General audience. General audience.
Authors
  • Researcher.
  • Academic.
  • Scholar.
  • Journalist.
  • Free-lance writer.
  • Specialist or scholar.
  • Free-lance writer.
  • Staff writer.
  • Journalist.
Content 
&
Language
  • Description of research method with
    conclusions.
  • Objective.
  • Assumes knowledge of technical
    language and  specialist jargon.
  • Article may have a specific structure.
  • Explanation of a subject. 
  • Interpretation of a research article.
  • May or may not be objective.
  • Use of non-technical vocabulary.
  • Shorter articles than in scholarly pubs.
  • May be biased toward a particular point
    of view.
  • Less depth.
  • Simple language.
  • Often written like a story.
Publishers
  • Professional organizations.
  • University presses.
  • Research institutions.
  • Scholarly presses.
  • Commercial/trade.
  • Professional organizations.
Commercial/trade.
Sources
  • Bibliography and/or footnotes present.
  • Extensive citation of sources.
Sometimes includes citations of sources. Rarely, if ever,  includes citations of sources.
Graphics
  • Graphs, charts, and tables.
  • Advertising is very rare.
  • Illustrated, often with photographs.
  • Advertising is present.
  • Heavily illustrated.
  • Lots of advertising. 

*Peer-Reviewed: Many scholarly journals have a peer review board (other scholars in the author's field or specialty) that critically assesses a draft of the article to determine if it is acceptable for publication. The review board may send a paper back to the author with suggestions for improvement before it can be published. This process helps ensure that the published article reflects solid scholarship in the field.

For a thorough review of this topic, see Cornell University Library's web site
"Distinguishing Scholarly Journals from Other Periodicals"


Copyright 1999 Bailey/Howe Library Reference Division. All rights reserved.
Questions and comments can be addressed to: Patricia Mardeusz
Last updated: October 6, 2009