Who says you can't judge a periodical by its cover?

Mouseover the covers and click to discover five characteristics which distinguish a scholarly journal from a popular magazine.

Scholarly Journal Popular Magazine
Scholarly journal cover

Journal Titles | Article Titles | Editors | Publishers | Volume / Issue

Looking at a cover is not always enough, lets take a look at two articles found in these publications and discover some clues which will help you determine whether the article is scholarly or popular in nature.

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Scholarly Journal: The title is descriptive and precise. Coverage is often a specific area of study (e.g., biology) or a specific topic (e.g., addictions) studied from a multi-disciplinary perspective. The words "Journal," "Transactions," "Proceedings," or "Quarterly," often appear in the title.

Popular Magazine: The title may not be indicative of the kinds of articles contained within the magazine. A more descriptive subheading is sometimes provided.

Scholarly Journal: The journal covers a specific area of study and so all the articles in each issue are similar in terms of the topics they discuss.

Popular Magazine: While the magazine may have a general theme (e.g., sports, politics, women's issues), each article in an issue is on a different topic and bears no relation to the other articles in the magazine. Popular magazines are designed to attract a broad audience and usually focus on current events and popular topics.

Scholarly Journal: Submitted articles must meet a predetermined standard before they are accepted for publication. Most scholarly journals are refereed journals, which means they require articles to go through a peer review process in which the validity of the research is tested before publication.

Popular Magazine: No peer review process is required before the article is accepted for publication.

Scholarly Journal: Often published by Learned Societies, Associations or University presses. There are also a number of commercial publisher who publish only academic journals (e.g., Bluwer, Elsevier, Academic Press).

Popular Magazine: Published by commercial publishers.

Scholarly Journal: Generally published monthly, bi-monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, or annually. Volume and issue numbers are important to note for your citations.

Popular Magazine: Often published weekly or monthly. While volume numbers are often given, issue numbers may be replace by the date of publication.