Types of Periodicals

Popular Magazines -- Trade Publications--Professional Journals -- Scholarly Journals

This table lists criteria that can be used to distinguish  popular magazines, trade publications, professional journals, and scholarly journals. Some periodicals may not meet all of the criteria in a category but should be evaluated on the major characteristics such as content and accountability .

Tutorial on Types of Periodicals







eye-catching cover

glossy paper

color graphics

each issue starts with pg. 1

cover often trade related

glossy paper

color graphics

usually each issue starts with a pg. 1

glossy cover, often trade related

glossy paper

color graphics

usually each issue continues pagination from previous issue

plain cover, often with table of contents

black/white graphics

each issue continues pagination from previous issue



members of a specific business, trade, industry, profession, or organization

members of a specific profession

researchers and professionals


Non-technical, usually at a fifth to tenth grade reading level

Uses jargon of the trade and some technical language, but readable by most people

Uses jargon and technical language appropriate to the profession

Uses highly technical language appropriate to the field


personalities, news, and general interest articles

articles written by staff or free lance writers with no specific background in the subject

brief newsy articles on industry trends, new product announcements, new techniques, and organizational news

articles written by staff with background in that field or by individuals currently working in that field

articles focus on application of research in the profession; are more in-depth; may include a few research articles

articles written by professionals, often with advanced degrees

research projects, theory, and methodology

original research findings presented by scholars, researchers or subject specialists in that field


editorial review

no bibliographies

reviewed by editor or staff with background in the field

in-text references to sources, but no bibliographies

members of editorial board are professionals in the field;

may be peer reviewed/refereed*

includes bibliographic citations;some may be detailed

usually, but not always peer reviewed/refereed*

includes detailed bibliographic citations




all or most are trade related


professionally related

few, professionally related or none


Sports Illustrated

Psychology Today


American Nurse

AARC Times

Diagnostic Imaging

American Journal of Nursing

JAMA: the Journal of the American Medical Association

Applied Radiology

Clinical Imaging

Journal of Pediatric Nursing

American Journal of Health Behavior

* Peer Reviewed/Refereed

Peer Review refers to the policy of having experts in the field examine journal articles before acceptance for publication. Peer review insures that the research described in a journal's articles is sound and of high quality.  Whether of not articles must undergo peer review is an editorial decision of the publication. Do not assume that because an article presents scholarly reseach that it is peer reviewed.  Check the requirements for publication in that journal.

Sometimes the term Refereed is used instead of peer review.