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LS 102 Course Materials

Introduction to Information Research

Evaluate Periodical Articles

 When you gather information from periodicals, consider what types of periodicals you need to use for your research. Does your research assignment require that you only use “scholarly” journals or is it OK to use “popular” magazines or newspapers? If you are not sure, check with your instructor.  Periodicals could be magazines, scholarly journals, newspapers, trade publications, or publications of opinion.  All of these types of periodicals serve different purposes and contain different kinds of information.

We sort magazines from journals by looking at the intended audience. Popular sources (magazines, newspapers) are written so that non-experts can read them. Scholarly sources (journals) usually assume a background in the discipline or subject covered. The generalizations below can help you sort this out.

Popular Magazines: American Heritage, Business Week, Discover, Ebony, Esquire, Health, Jet, Ladies' Home Journal, MacWorld, New Age, New York Times, Newsweek, PC World, People, Prevention, Reader's Digest, Rolling Stone, Science News, Sports Illustrated, Time, Times Picayune, Vogue, Wall Street Journal

  • Author is usually a staff writer who covers several areas for the magazine
  • Written in non-technical language
  • Broad overviews, rather than in-depth treatments, of a topic
  • Eye-catching, with lots of graphics and advertisements
  • Articles are not refereed, or evaluated, by experts in the field prior to publication
  • No bibliography, or works cited, is included
  • Publisher is a commercial press

Scholarly Journals: Civil Rights Journal, European Journal of Soil Science, Families in Society, Journal of Singing, Journal of the American Medical Association, Knowledge Quest, Library Journal, Seton Hall Journal of Sport Law, Online, Spectrum, Techniques

  • Author's name and credentials always provided
  • Written for college students and experts in the field; very specialized vocabulary
  • In-depth analysis of original research
  • Graphics are usually few and directly support the research. Few advertisements
  • Follows a prescribed format or structure
  • Articles are refereed by experts in the field prior to publication
  • Bibliography, and/or footnotes, are always provided in order to document the research
  • Publisher is a university press or scholarly association

Newspapers: Times-Picayune, USA Today, New York Times, Wall Street Journal

  • Articles usually contain lots of advertisements
  • Articles are written for anyone to understand
  • Articles contain current events, news, opinion articles

Online Periodical Articles
When you find periodical articles online via Sims Memorial Library full-text periodical indexes or from the Web “at large,” many of the visual clues listed on the above list may not be there. Take extra care in evaluating online articles. If you are not sure if an online periodical article is scholarly or popular, check with your instructor or Ask a Librarian!