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Compare Article Types

Your professor may ask you to use scholarly, peer reviewed, or refereed journals in your research paper, and you are not certain about how to find them.

Below are some characteristics for identifying the three types of periodical literature: scholarly/professional, popular, and trade. Ask a librarian for help if you are unsure how to categorize a particular title. Please note that not all of the criteria will apply to periodicals in each category.

See the Scholarly Articles guide for more information.


Professional Journals

Popular Magazines

Trade Publications

Article Type

In-depth research articles, often peer-reviewed; usually includes an abstract; may be brief news of developments in the field or recent research, academic book reviews

Brief, nontechnical, current events, news; quick facts; short interviews, brief book reviews, ads

Product reviews; industry statistics; new publications; patents


To provide information about, report, or present original research or experiments

To provide general information to, entertain, or persuade the general public

To provide news or information to practitioners in an industry or trade


Clearly defined; experts with significant knowledge in the subject area, scholars, and researchers

Not always identified; staff writers

Not always identified; staff writers, practitioners in the trade


Professors, researchers, and students, members of association; other professionals in the field


Intended for those with an interest in a specific industry or trade


Typically a university or professional association

Typically commercial

Typically commercial

Writing Style

Formal or semiformal; scholarly language; may use technical or specialized language

Informal; language is easy to understand

Informal; may use technical or specialized language


Footnotes or endnotes; bibliography; suggested resources for more information


Suggested resources for more information, sometimes a brief bibliography


May include tables, graphs, charts, or equations to support the research

Often includes glossy photographs, ads, images

May include black & white or color images, graphs, or charts


Sloan Management Review, Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, Journal of Computer Information Systems, Journal of American History

Time, Newsweek, Business Week, Psychology Today, PC World, Washington Post

Association Management, People Management, Federal Computer Week, Food Technology, Workforce