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Periodicals Basics

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Types of Periodicals | Primary & Secondary Sources | Peer Reviewed or Refereed Journals
Locating Specific Types of Journal Articles

A periodical is a generic term used for materials that are published at regular intervals–monthly, quarterly, daily, etc

  • popular magazines
  • scholarly journals
  • subject or professional publications

Periodicals are an excellent method of getting current information. Subjects that are new or too specialized to be covered in books can often be found in journals, magazines, and newspapers.

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Periodicals have a variety of purposes and kinds of audiences. Magazines may be appropriate for some purposes, journals of opinion for others, but usually the most important sources for university level research are academic journals.

The definitions below will help you understand the differences between periodical types:

  • Magazines are commercial publications intended for a general, popular audience for the purpose of informing and entertaining.

  • Journals are specialized, scholarly publications written by authorities in the field. They usually include bibliographies.

  • Subject or professional/practitioner magazines are between magazines and journals, with articles written by experts but intended less to advance the field than to report on developments of interest.

  • Trade journals are also between magazines and journals, but their focus includes more product and business information.

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[an error occurred while processing this directive] Last updated: 04/25/2011