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last updated: 11/9/2010

What is a Periodical?


Periodicals are publications which are issued at regular intervals, such as journals, magazines, and newspapers. They are also often referred to as serials. Periodicals usually consist of a collection of articles, which may range from a single page story in a magazine to a 40 page study in a scholarly journal.


Periodicals can offer some advantages over books depending upon your information need. However, when using periodicals, it is important to understand the difference between scholarly and popular periodicals.



The Advantages of Using Periodicals

  • Because they are published frequently, periodicals are the best sources for current information.

  • Current events are usually discussed in periodicals long before they become the subject of a book.

  • Periodicals often contain information on the latest trends, products, research and theories.

  • Periodicals are the best source for ephemeral or very specialized information.

  • Periodicals exist for every field and every interest, providing access to a variety of hard-to find information.

  • Due to the shorter length of periodical articles, more topics may be covered within one volume of a periodical than in one book.

The most common types of periodicals are Scholarly, Popular, and Trade Journals.



Scholarly Journals

  • Report original research or experimentation, often in specific academic disciplines.

  • The targeted audience is the scholarly researcher, faculty, and students.

  • Articles are written by experts in the field, and are signed.

  • Articles often use specialized jargon of the discipline, and assume a familiarity with the subject.

  • Illustrations are few, and support the text, typically in the form of charts, graphs, and maps.

  • Often do not include advertisements. Any advertisements included would be unobtrusive.

  • Most scholarly journals subject articles to the peer review process prior to publication. Journals that employ the peer review process are also referred to as "refereed journals."

  • Articles usually include footnotes or bibliographies to other sources, using a standardized citation format.

  • Are typically published quarterly.

Examples of Scholarly Journals:

Journal of Clinical Child Psychology

Journal of Cultural Anthropology

Journal of the American Medical Association

Social Problems



Popular Magazines

  • Cover news, current events, hobbies, or special interests.

  • Are targeted at the general public, and available to a broad audience.

  • Articles are usually written by a member of the editorial staff or a free lance writer.

  • The language of the articles is geared for any educated audience, and does not assume familiarity with the subject matter.

  • Include many illustrations, often with large, glossy photographs and graphics for an aesthetically pleasing appearance.

  • Include advertisements.

  • Publication does not involve a peer review process.

  • Sources are sometimes cited, but articles do not usually include footnotes or a bibliography.

  • Are typically published weekly or monthly.

Examples of Popular Magazines:

Glamour

Newsweek

Rolling Stone

Time

U.S. News & World Report



Trade Journals

  • Discuss practical information and concerns in a particular industry.

  • Contain business news, product information, advertising, trends in technology, and law.

  • Are targeted at the professionals in that industry, or students researching that industry.

  • Articles are written by experts in the field for other experts in the field.

  • Articles use specialized jargon of the discipline.

  • Often include colorful illustrations and advertisements.

  • Publication does not involve a peer review process.

  • Sources are sometimes cited, but articles do not usually include footnotes or a bibliography.

  • Are typically published weekly or monthly.

Examples of Trade Journals:

American Libraries

Aviation Week and Space Technology

Chemical Marketing Reporter

Restaurant Business



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last updated: 11/9/2010