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BGSU Firelands Library

Firelands Library Research Guide: Magazines vs Journals

This is the basic research guide to help with writing a research paper in any class.

Scholarly or Not?

For some assignments, your instructor may require you to locate information in scholarly research journals, but how can you easily know the differences between a scholarly journal and a popular magazine?  This sort of basic evaluation is a necessary part of the research process, and a means for you to sharpen your critical thinking skills. 

Some of the ways that a research journal typically differs from a popular magazine are:

 AUTHORITY
Scholarly journal articles will indicate authors and their academic credentials; popular magazines may not always list the author.

CITATION
Scholarly journal articles will include footnotes, endnotes, bibliographies, or reference lists; popular magazine articles very rarely do this.

CONTENT
Scholarly journal articles focus on research; popular magazines focus on current events & topics of general interest, and include lots of ads for consumer products.

PEER REVIEW
Scholarly journal articles are reviewed and fully critiqued by subject experts for research accuracy & importance before being published; popular magazines are not as rigorous.

POINT OF SALE
Where you find publications for sale is a clue.  It may be difficult to locate scholarly journals at all outside of research libraries; popular magazines are usually much easier to find.

PUBLICATION
FREQUENCY
Scholarly journals are usually published two or  four times a year; popular magazines may be published daily, weekly, or monthly.

Library Tips

 Here is a handout you can print about the differences between scholarly and popular works.