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Communication Databases: Research

Resources for Your Research

Is it Scholarly, Trade or a Popular Publication?

Scholarly and Popular Materials

When conducting research it is important to distinguish between journal articles and magazine articles. Journal articles are typically referred to as "scholarly," while magazine articles are usually considered "popular". A third category, "trade" magazines or journals, are written for professionals in a particular field but are not strictly research related. Below are additional criteria to consider when differentiating between journals and magazines.


Scholarly Journal

Trade Journal

Popular Magazine

Sample Cover

Behavioral neuroscience

Monitor on psychology

Psychology today


Academics and professionals

People in the business

General public


Experts or specialists (PhD). Unpaid.

Staff writers, industry specialists, or vendor representatives. Paid.

Journalists, staff writers, or freelance writers. Paid.

Editorial Review

Journal editorial board and peer reviewers. Unpaid.

Professional editors. Paid.

Professional editors. Paid.

References / Works Cited

Always—with footnotes or a bibliography.



Chart adapted from NCSU Libraries:

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