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Research Steps: Types of Periodicals

Journals, magazines and newspapers are often referred to as periodicals or serials because they are published on a regular (daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly) basis. These publications are great sources of current, up-to-date information.

Periodicals are available in electronic and print form. If the Library subscribes to a journal, magazine or newspaper, it is listed by title and subject in the Library Search.

The following chart outlines the general characteristics of different types of periodicals.


Academic Journals

(Scholarly Journals, Peer-Reviewed Journals, Research Journals)

Trade Publications  Magazines Newspapers


Journal of Communication Management
Canadian Medical Association Journal
Chemical Engineering Journal
ACM Computing Surveys

PC World
Medical Post
Aviation Week & Space Technology

Sports Illustrated
National Geographic
Consumer Reports

Calgary Herald
Calgary Sun
Globe and Mail
National Post

Value and Uses

Reports on original research; In-depth analysis of topics; Lengthy articles; Statistical information; Academic level book reviews; Refereed or peer-reviewed

Current trends, news and products in a field; Practical industry information; Company, organization and biographical news; Career information; Book and product reviews

Current events and news; Hot topics; Brief, factual information; Short articles; Interviews; Hobbyist info

News stories; Current information; Local and regional focus; Analysis and opinion of current events; Classified ads; Editorials; Book reviews; Entertainment information


Researchers, scholars, professors, academics

Practitioners in the field

General audience

General audience


Academic level writing and vocabulary; Specialized language of the discipline; Can be highly technical

Written for practitioners in the field; Specialized jargon

Non-technical vocabulary; Often simple language

Non-technical vocabulary written for a general audience


Researchers, academics, professors, scholars

Experts in the field or journalists with subject expertise

Journalists, staff writers, freelance writers

Journalists, staff-writers

Editorial Requirements

Editors/reviewers are experts in same field as authors; May participate in peer-review process prior to publication; Rigorous publication standards; Articles checked for content, format and style

Editors are generally experts in same field as authors; Articles rarely peer-reviewed prior to publication; Articles usually checked only for format and style

Editors not academic experts in subject field of article; Article topics often assigned or contracted; Articles usually only edited for style and format

Editors not academic experts in subject field of article; Articles edited for brevity

Citations and Footnotes

Footnotes and bibliographies; Documentation often extensive

Occasional brief bibliographies; Sources can be cited in text

Original sources can be obscure; Sources, when used, are rarely cited in full

Sources are rarely cited in full


Professional organizations, universities, research institutes and scholarly presses

Commercial / trade publisher; Industry institutes and professional associations

Commercial / trade publishers; Corporate ownership

Commercial / trade publishers; Corporate ownership

Graphics and Illustrations

Graphs, charts and tables; Ads and photographs are rare

Graphs, charts, tables, photographs relevant to the industry; Glossy ads

Many graphics and photographs; Many full-page, colour, glossy ads

Photos, graphics and charts; Many ads

This chart was adapted from:
Gradowksi, G., Snavely, L., & Dempsey, P. (1998). Designs for active learning: A sourcebook of classroom strategies for information education. American Library Association.

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