Journals, also known as periodicals or magazines, generally fall under three categories:
Scholarly Journals are written by academics for academics. They are generally focused on a specific academic field or discipline. Their purpose is to advance scholarship in that field by publishing in-depth research studies. Most scholarly journals are also peer reviewed. Most databases will allow you to limit to scholarly/academic/peer-review.
Trade Publications, or professional magazines, are written by staff writers or practitioners in a given trade or profession. The intent is to share industry news, trends, and advances. They are also used to advertise trade specific products and job openings. Most trade publications do not undergo the peer review process; however, there are exceptions.
Popular Magazines are written by journalists to inform or entertain the general public. They cover current events, hot topics, news items, etc. They are not peer reviewed. Magazine articles might contain references to scholarly research, but the articles themselves are not scholarly.
What is Peer Review?
Peer review is a scholarly form of review used by journals only for journal articles. After an article is sent to an academic journal, the editor sends it to several peer reviewers—typically scholars in the field—for evaluation.
These peer reviewers examine the paper's methodology, literature review, and conclusions. They note the existence of bias or other flaws. The peer review process is applied to both primary articles (i.e. articles which present findings from original research) and to review articles that summarize primary research.]The peer reviewers may accept the article, require rewrites from the authors, or reject the article.
If you are asked to find articles that are peer-reviewed, what you are really looking for are articles from a peer-reviewed journal.
Peer review can also be called:
Search Tip: Peer-reviewed journals may also contain items that are not peer reviewed, such as letters to the editor, opinion pieces, and book reviews. Even if you check the peer review limiter box, you still need to examine the items carefully to be sure they are articles.
Some differences between scholarly journals, trade publications, and popular magazines.
|Info||Scholarly Journals||Trade Publications||Popular Magazines|
|Purpose||Report on research studies, advance knowledge||Provide news, information on an industry||Inform, entertain|
|Scope||Narrow focus on one academic field||Practical information for a specific industry||Broad overview of topics|
|Content||Research reports, methodology, theory||Industry trends, products, association news||News, opinions, general interest|
|Accountability||Peer reviewed||Professional ethics||Journalistic ethics|
|Audience||Students, researchers, scholars||Professionals, practitioners||General public, consumers|
|Title||Often includes "journal", "review", or "bulletin"||Often includes industry name||Rarely includes "journal", "review", or "bulletin".|
|Author(s)||Experts, scholars, specialists||Professionals, staff writers||Journalists, staff writers|
|Writing Style||Scholarly, technical||Technical||Informal, journalistic, conversational|
|Language||Technical, assumes a scholarly background||Industry jargon||Easily accessible|
|Organization||Structured; abstract, literature review, methodology, etc||No specific format or structure||No specific format or structure|
|Visuals||Graphs, charts that support the research||Pictures, illustrations||Pictures, illustrations|
|Bibliography||Always cite sources, bibliography in accepted style||May cite sources||Rarely cite sources|
|Publisher||Academic press, professional organization||Professional, trade association||Commercial publisher|