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Resource Types

What are Periodicals

  • What is a periodical? A periodical is a publication with multiple articles which appears more than once, usually on a regular basis. Articles from periodicals provide more recent information than books, since they can be published more quickly.
  • Magazines, scholarly journals and newspapers are all periodicals. Being aware of the different types helps you select the most appropriate one for your research needs. The distinguishing features of each are outlined in the table below. Magazines and newspapers are sometimes referred to as popular material, because they are written for a general audience.
  • You should use journal articles when you need focused, up-to-date information on a topic. In general, you should use scholarly sources for your research because they provide a greater depth of information. However, in some cases it is also acceptable to use popular sources such as newspapers. Check with your professor.

Characteristics of Scholarly and Popular Periodicals


NAME: What type of periodical? Magazine, Newspaper Journal
AUTHOR: Who writes an article published in the periodical? Journalist, Reporter, Writer Scholar, Expert, Researcher, Scientist
AUDIENCE: Who is the intended reader or buyer of the periodical? General Public, Everyone Scholar, Expert, Researcher, Scientist, College Student, Graduate Student
ARTICLE LENGTH: Generally how long is a feature article? Short, One to Five pages Long; Ten pages or more
FREQUENCY: How often is the periodical published? Daily, Weekly, Monthly Per Year: Annual (1), Semi-Annual (2), Quarterly (4), Monthly (10-12)
APPROVAL PROCESS: Who approves a manuscript before it is actually published? Editor or a few Editors Peers or Referees; other Scholars, Experts, Researchers, Scientists who serve as readers to review manuscripts before they are accepted for publication; most journals have such a process, those which do are called Peer-Reviewed or Refereed
LANGUAGE: Is the writing at a high or low reading level? Common Language, Everyday Language; 6th to 8th Grade Reading Level Higher level reading; Detail oriented, with language which is sophisticated, specialized, technical
SUPPORTING MATERIALS: Does an article routinely have a list of sources at the end of the article which the writer consulted? Pictures, Illustrations, Graphics Scholarly Apparatus: footnotes, endnotes, bibliography, reading or reference list, charts, graphs, tables
ACCESSIBILITY: How easy or difficult is it to obtain or access the periodical? Where is it accessed? Easy to access; Newsstand, Deli, Grocery Store, Bodega, Supermarket Purchase at bookstore, e.g. Barnes & Noble; Academic or Research Library, sometimes Public Library
COST: How much does the periodical cost? Expensive or inexpensive? For Profit, but Inexpensive Non-Profit, but Expensive

Use in Research

When writing a research paper, it is acceptable to use some popular material, such as magazine and newspaper articles, but your paper should not be based solely on popular literature sources. It is a good idea to consult with your professor about the types of sources that he or she feels are appropriate to the assignment.

If our library doesn't own an article online, we may have a print equivalent, or you may be able to get a copy through Interlibrary Loan.

Courtesy Prof. James Mellone