Periodical is a term used to describe any publication that is published multiple times (periodically). Periodicals include materials such as popular magazines, scholarly journals, professional journals and newsletters, and newspapers.
It is important to understand the difference between a popular and a scholarly periodical. When you are doing research, most of your sources should be scholarly or professional.
Often popular periodicals are called magazines and scholarly periodicals are called journals. Many times it will be acceptable to use some popular material, but research papers should not be based solely on popular literature.
Explore this visual aid describing the key elements of an academic journal article: Anatomy of a Scholarly Article.
|Criteria||Popular Magazine||Professional Journal||Scholarly Journal|
||Secondary discussion of someone else's research; may include personal narrative or opinion; general information, purpose is to entertain or inform.||Current news, trends and products in a specific industry; practical information for professionals working in the field or industry.||In-depth, primary account of original findings written by the researcher(s); very specific information, with the goal of scholarly communication.|
|Author||Author is frequently a journalist paid to write articles, may or may not have subject expertise.||Author is usually a professional in the field, sometimes a journalist with subject expertise.||Author's credentials are provided; usually a scholar or specialist with subject expertise.|
||General public; the interested non-specialist.||Professionals in the field; the interested non-specialist.||Scholars, researchers, and students.|
|Language||Vocabulary in general usage; easily understandable to most readers.||Specialized terminology or jargon of the field, but not as technical as a scholarly journal.||Specialized terminology or jargon of the field; requires expertise in subject area.|
|Graphics||Graphs, charts and tables; lots of glossy advertisements and photographs.||Photographs; some graphics and charts; advertisements targeted to professionals in the field.||Graphs, charts, and tables; very few advertisements and photographs.|
|Layout & Organization||Informal; may include non-standard formatting. May not present supporting evidence or a conclusion.||Informal; articles organized like a journal or a newsletter. Evidence drawn from personal experience or common knowledge.||Structured; includes the article abstract, goals and objectives, methodology, results (evidence), discussion, conclusion, and bibliography.|
|Accountability||Articles are evaluated by editorial staff, not experts in the field; edited for format and style.||Articles are evaluated by editorial staff who may be experts in the field, not peer-reviewed*; edited for format and style.||Articles are evaluated by peer-reviewers* or referees who are experts in the field; edited for content, format, and style.|
|References||Rare. Little, if any, information about source materials is given.||Occasional brief bibliographies, but not required.||Required. Quotes and facts are verifiable.|
|Paging||Each issue begins with page 1.||Each issue generally begins with page 1.||Page numbers are generally consecutive throughout the volume.|
Adapted from Scholarly, Trade, or Popular by Gateway Communiity College.
Do you want to know how to determine if an article is scholarly or popular? see this tutorial by University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Libraries.
Is the video not visible? Check your browser compatibility. opens new window If your browser is compatible, Try the video, Popular Literature vs. Scholarly Sources, on YouTube. opens new window