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Distinguishing Scholarly Journals from Popular Magazines: Explanation


Journal publications are designed for different audiences and purposes.

Journals may be divided into two categories, scholarly and popular.

Scholarly journals are appropriate for academic research whereas popular magazines provide information for the general public.

Scholarly journals are usually published by academic presses, research institutions, or professional associations and have specific submission criteria. Articles submitted to scholarly publications are often reviewed by an independent panel of experts and are referred to as peer reviewed or refereed. Increasingly, general databases like Expanded Academic Index, Infotrac, and Wilson Omnifile allow the user to limit searches to peer reviewed articles or at least differentiate the popular from the scholarly resources in their databases.

Popular magazines often have a staff of writers hired to produce articles on timely, general interest topics. Articles are submitted to an editor who reviews the article for relevance to the magazine. Glossy photographs, provocative titles, and advertising are commonly found throughout each issue.

Distinguishing Features

Here are the general differences between scholarly journals and popular magazines:

Scholarly Popular
Examples Energy Policy, International Philosophical Quarterly; Journal of Cultural History Time, Cosmopolitan
Purpose Represents scholarly research General Information and entertainment
Author Experts and scholars in the field Often no author is listed, or the author is not an expert or scholar
Publisher University, research press, professional association Commercial publisher
References Bibliographies and lists of references Often no cited references or bibliography