Answered By: Pollak Library Guides
Last Updated: Jan 24, 2020     Views: 323

Simply stated, all periodicals are publications that are published periodically. Periodicals are not all the same. Periodicals are presented in different mediums, they utilize different publication processes, and they appeal to a variety of readerships. Below you will find three types of periodicals. You will also find some distinctions between what the academic community considers popular and scholarly literature.

Types of Periodicals and Their Uses:


Scholarly Journals

Trade Journals


Written for

Researchers, college professors, and college students

Professionals within that field

General public

Written by

Researchers, who are often college professors

Professionals within that field

Professional writers


Covers: Simple, using few colors
Advertisements: Very few
Contains: Research results, charts, graphs, statistics
Published by: Universities or professional associations

Covers: Glossy with great photos
Advertisements:  Many
Contains: Practical information, lots of advertisements useful to working professionals
Published by: Professional associations

Covers: Glossy with great photos
Advertisements: Many
Contains: Entertaining information for the people who read it for pleasure.
Published by: Commercial publishers


* are always signed
* written in scholarly language
* are long, eight or more pages
* report research
* will be fully cited
* have detailed bibliography
* reviewed by an editorial board

* might be signed
* easy to read
* report trends, news or practical information for music professionals
* will be short, 1 paragraph to a couple of pages
* are likely to be illustrated

* might be signed
* are easy to read
* are read for pleasure
* include lots of photographs
* report on current topics and events
* articles tend to be short

Used for

Journals report scholarly research and are read by scholars and college students.  They are often the basis for further scholarly research done by researchers and are used by college students doing research.

Trade journals inform working professionals on practical information, current trends, products, and advertise conferences and workshops. They might be used in college research.  Check with your professor.

Popular magazines are written primarily for the pleasure of the general public but they can also inform and educate.  They are not used for college-level research papers. They are appropriate for high school level work.


Remarkably expensive, subscription starts about $500 per year, obtain from a university.

Cost varies, less expensive, can come with a professional membership.

Very reasonable, $5-15 per issue, subscriptions bring the cost down.


American Journal of Sociology
Social Forces
Journal of Marriage and the Family
Early Music
Journal of Music Theory
Music Review

The Police Chief
American Libraries
Beverage World
Bankers World

Advertising Age

Down Beat
US News and World Report



Introductory Text: Matthew Mallard (adapted from a document by Suellen Cox)
Table: Cynthia Bruns