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Scholarly Journals, Popular Magazines, & Trade Journals: Home

A comparison of the characteristics between popular, trade, and scholarly articles

Comparison between Popular Magazines, Trade Publications, & Scholarly Journal Articles

When evaluating articles for your papers, it is important to understand what type of resource you are using.  The following is a list of General Criteria that can be used to distinguish between popular magazines, trade magazines, and scholarly journals.

Some articles do not meet all the criteria in one category. For example, Scientific American, which has glossy pages and color pictures, contains both scholarly articles as well as those geared to a more general audience. Accountability and purpose of the specific article are the key criteria used to determine if an article is scholarly.

Want more information? Go through this tutorial on Types of Information by New Literacies Alliance





Things to Look for to Help Identify the Type of Article
  • Author and institutional affiliation information
  • Abstract
  • Reference list
  • Tables and graphs
  • Black/white graphics and illustrations
  • Articles tend to be longer in length (e.g. 15-20 pages)
  • May or may not have a byline/author information
  • No reference list
  • Color pictures and graphics
  • Less formal writing style - written for a general audience
  • Shorter articles
  • These can be the most tricky to identify, as they may have components of popular magazines and scholarly journals. 
  • Technical writing style - written for a specific industry audience
Intended Audience
Researchers, academics, and college students

General public

Members of a specific business,
industry or organization
Writing Style
  • Formal writing style with terminology specific to the discipline
  • Structured articles (i.e. abstract, literature review, methodology, results, conclusion, bibliography)
  • Informal writing style and language
  • No set structure or format
  • Technical writing style and language
  • Specific to the industry the journal represents

Presents original research or literature review

Provides general interest articles, news, and entertainment
Presents industry trends, products, and news
Experts or authorities in the field (i.e. researchers, academics, or specialists)

Staff or contributing authors

Articles may be unsigned

Staff or contributing authors

Articles may be unsigned

Extensive bibliographies are included.  Sources are cited within the text, often footnotes/endnotes are included

No formal citations. 

Articles may mention sources within the text. 

May include short bibliographies.
Editing and Vetting Process

Articles are reviewed and evaluated by a board of experts in the field.

Peer review or refereed process

Articles are reviewed by the editors of the magazine


Articles are reviewed by the editors of the publication
Very few or no advertisements in the journal
Many advertisements throughout magazine
Some advertisements
All or most are trade related

Journal of Food Science

Urban Studies

Journal of Applied Psychology

Journal of Social History

Bon Appetit


Psychology Today

New Yorker


Chilton's Food Engineering

Public Management

APA Monitor

Advertising Age