Scholarly Journals Vs Popular Magazines


It can sometimes be difficult to determine if you are reading an article from a peer-reviewed journal. The following are general criteria used to distinguish between popular magazines, trade journals and scholarly journals.

Popular Magazines vs Trade Journals vs Scholarly Journals

CriteriaPopular MagazinesTrade JournalsScholarly Journals
CriteriaPopular MagazinesTrade JournalsScholarly Journals
  • eye-catching cover
  • glossy paper
  • pictures and illustrations in colour
  • each issue starts with page 1
  • glossy paper
  • pictures and illustrations in colour
  • each issue starts with page 1
  • plain cover
  • plain paper
  • black / white graphics and illustrations
  • pages are usually consecutive throughout the volume


General PublicMembers of a specific business, industry or organizationResearchers, professionals and academics
  • Articles written by staff members, journalists, and freelance writers
  • Authors may be anonymous
  • Articles written by staff members, contributing authors or freelance writers
  • Authors usually named
  • Experts in the field such as professors
  • Authors named and institutional affiliations given
References or Biblio-graphiesRarely include bibliographiesMay include short bibliographiesBibliographies are always present
EditorsEditors work for publisherEditors work for publisherEditorial board of outside scholars (known as peer review)
PublishersCommercial, for profitOften a trade organizationOften a scholarly or professional organization or a university press
ContentPersonalities, news of current events, and general interest articlesIndustry trends, new products or techniques, and organizational news
  • Original research, in depth studies, literary criticism, and theory.
  • Articles usually contain abstracts
Writing Style and Language
  • Easy to read, simple language used.
  • Aimed at the layperson.
Uses terminology and language of trade or industry coveredUses discipline specific terminology that is sophisticated and technical .
Advertise-ments (Print Version)Heavy
(for consumer products)
(all or most are trade related)
Few or none
(usually for book or conference)


Industry week

Chemical and Engineering News

"Aviation" and "Engineering"

What is a Scholarly or Peer Reviewed Journal?

Scholarly and professional journals feature articles written by researchers and practitioners in a particular subject area. The authors often have particular specialities. Peer groups of researchers, scholars and professionals within a specific discipline are the audience for scholarly literature.

Peer review is a well-accepted indicator of quality scholarship. It is the process by which an author's peers read a paper submitted for publication. A number of recognized researchers in the field will evaluate a manuscript and recommend its publication, revision, or rejection. Articles accepted for publication through a peer-review process implicitly meet the discipline expected standards of expertise.

Articles in some scholarly and professional journals are not peer-reviewed but are selected by an editor or board. Standards of scholarship in such journals are often equal or comparable to those of peer-reviewed publications, although this is not always the case.

Peer-reviewed journals can be identified by their editorial statements or instructions to authors.

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