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Scholarly vs. Popular: Home

Scholarly vs. Popular

How to Tell a Scholarly Journal from a Magazine

 Click here for printable PDF of this guide


Scholarly, professional journals publish articles that have gone through peer review. That is, several experts carefully critique the content of a peer-reviewed article before the editor approves it for publication.


  • Serials are publications produced in a series under one title.
  • Periodicals are serials published on a regular schedule (e.g. weekly, monthly, quarterly, annually)
  • Journals are periodicals sold primarily for professional use. Journals are often described as "scholarly", "peer-reviewed”, or "professional."
  •  Magazines are periodicals sold primarily for personal (not professional) use.




Articles include works cited (references)

Articles do not include works cited (references)

Articles go through peer review (experts on the topic read and critique the article before it is published)

No peer review

Article may have a method section, describing how data is gathered & interpreted

No method section in the articles

Contact information is given for authors, so readers can send feedback

Feedback goes to editor,not author

No advertisements, or few ads targeted to special audience

Many advertisements, usually for a broad audience

Journals are expensive—average $150+ per year; many cost more than $1000 per year.

Relatively inexpensive, since income comes largely from advertising

Authors are not paid by the publisher

Publisher pays authors