Popular magazines vs trade publications vs scholarly journals

The following General Guidelines describe the three main types of periodicals: popular magazines, trade publications, and scholarly journals. Not all periodicals fall into these categories. If you aren't sure if a publication is appropriate for your assignment, ask your instructor.

Popular magazines vs. trade publications vs. scholarly journals
Criteria Popular magazines Trade publications Scholarly journals
Audience general public members of a specific industry or organization university community, researchers and professionals
  • paid staff or free-lancers
  • articles may be unsigned
  • qualifications and affiliation not usually given
  • paid staff or practitioners in the field
  • articles usually signed
  • qualifications and affiliation not usually given
  • scholars or researchers in the field, usually with university, research institute, or government affiliation
  • background of authors usually given
Accountability reviewed by an editor reviewed by an editor peer reviewed or refereed
Content often consists of opinion, interviews, discussions of news or other popular subjects topics of interest to practicing professionals in a particular industry Results of a research study done by the authors, or arguments or analysis based on documented evidence
Documentation may have no references to other sources, and no bibliographies or footnotes may have a few references to other sources, with short bibliographies always contains many references to other sources, given in a bibliography or footnotes
Frequency usually weekly or monthly usually weekly or monthly usually quarterly
Language non-specialized language for a wide audience may contain specialized terminology used within the industry more complex, specialized language with frequent use of academic terms and concepts
Publisher commercial commercial or industry association university press or scholarly society