Magazines vs. Journals

POPULAR MAGAZINES are written for a general audience. They are titles you might find at your public library or on a newsstand.


  • Articles are usually written by journalists or professional writers.
  • There are usually no bibliographies following the articles.
  • They are mostly published by commercial presses.
  • They are primarily used to inform, update, or introduce a topic to a general audience.
  • Some examples of popular magazines are Newsweek, National Review, Commonweal.

SCHOLARLY JOURNALS are aimed at scholarly readers such as professors, researchers and college students.


  • They usually have a narrow subject focus.
  • Articles are written by people within the academic discipline or field.
  • Articles are often reviewed by an author’s peers before publication.
  • Scholarly journals are often called “Refereed Journals” or “Peer Reviewed Journals.”
  • They are mostly published by an academic or association press.
  • Scholarly publications include original research, reviews, and essays.
  • Some examples of scholarly journals are:  Journal of the American Academy of Religion, Journal of Applied Chemical Technology, Human Organization, or Journal of Academic Librarianship.

TRADE JOURNALS are geared for practitioners in a particular trade, profession or industry.


  • Often academic libraries have relatively few of these. They are more likely to be located in a commercial office. However, trade schools and community college libraries may have many trade journals depending on their curriculum or instructional emphasis.
  • They are published by professional or trade associations.
  • They are particularly useful for examining issues or trends in a profession or industry.  Advertising Age, Metal Workers Weekly, Library Journal are examples of trade publications.