Scholarly Journals vs Popular Magazines

Popular Magazines vs Trade Journals vs Scholarly Journals

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. 

Criteria Popular Magazines Trade Journals Scholarly Journals
Appearance Print:
  • 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 Public Members of a specific business, industry or organization Researchers, 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-graphies Rarely include bibliographies May include short bibliographies Bibliographies are always present
Editors Editors work for publisher Editors work for publisher Editorial board of outside scholars (known as peer review)
Publishers Commercial, for profit Often a trade organization Often a scholarly or professional organization or a university press
Content Personalities, news of current events, and general interest articles Industry 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 covered Uses 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)


Computer Gaming World

Industry week

Chemical and Engineering News

International journal of cultural property  

Journal of photochemistry and photobiology

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 specialties. 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''''s 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.