Journals and magazines are important sources of up-to-date information in all disciplines. However, many of your professors will require that all or most of the periodical articles you use come from SCHOLARLY JOURNALS. To help distinguish journals from other periodicals, some of the characteristics are listed below:
- Scholarly journals generally have a sober, serious look. They often contain many graphs and charts but few glossy pages, pictures or ads.
- Scholarly journals ALWAYS cite their sources in the form of footnotes or bibliographies.
- Articles are written by a scholar or expert on the subject. The author's name and credentials generally appear at the beginning or end of the articles.
- The language of scholarly journals is that of the discipline covered, i.e. technical or discipline related jargon. It assumes some scholarly background on the part of the reader.
- The main purpose of a scholarly journal is to report on original research or experimentation in order to make such information available to the rest of the scholarly world.
- Scholarly journals are published by professional associations or organizations, learned societies, university presses and some specialized presses.
- Before being published, articles are reviewed by experts in the field who decide whether the article is adding to the body of knowledge in the field. This process is called peer review. (You may also see the terms juried or judged).
Other criteria that may be useful, although there are many exceptions:
- Articles tend to be lengthy.
- Journals tend to be issued on a quarterly or bimonthly basis.
- Many journals have continuous pagination.
- Specialized indexes usually cover journals more than other types of publications. While most online databases allow you to limit to peer reviewed journals, each database publisher follows different criteria fo deciding what is a peer reviewed journal.