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Distinguishing between Scholarly Journals and Popular Magazines: Home

How to tell the difference between scholarly journals and popular magazines

Characteristics of Journals vs Magazines

Generally journals are edited and written by scholars in a particular field, while magazine editors and writers write for a broader, more popular audience.  Journal articles are peer-reviewed.  Magazine articles are not peer-reviewed, but usually contain more photographs and more slick and glossy and sometimes perfumy smell.

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Length Longer articles, providing in-depth analysis of topics Shorter articles, providing broader overviews of topics
Authorship Author an expert or specialist in the field, name and credentials always provided Author usually a staff writer or a journalist, name and credentials often not provided
Language/Audience Written in the language of the field for scholarly readers (professors, researchers or students) Written in non-technical language for anyone to understand
Format/Structure Articles usually more structured, may include these sections: abstract, literature review, methodology, results, conclusion, bibliography Articles do not necessarily follow a specific format or structure
Special Features Illustrations that support the text, such as tables of statistics, graphs, maps, or photographs Illustrations with glossy or color photographs, usually for advertising purposes
Editors Articles usually reviewed and critically evaluated by a board of experts in the field (refereed or peer-reviewed) Articles are not evaluated by experts in the field, but by editors on staff
Credits A bibliography (works cited) and/or footnotes are always provided to document research thoroughly A bibliography (works cited) is usually not provided, although names of reports or references may be mentioned in the text

Subject Guide

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Jared Seay
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