Distinguishing Information Sources
What are the Differences between Periodicals, Magazines, Journals, and Serials?
A periodical is a generic term used for popular magazines, scholarly journals, and subject or professional publications. They are materials that are published at regular intervals (monthly, quarterly, daily, etc.)
Periodicals are important because they 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. Periodicals have a variety of purposes and kinds of audiences. They may include news, opinion, editorial comments, scholarly analysis and research. They range from newsletters of trade organizations to in-depth journals published by scientific societies and university presses.
You will have to make an informed choice about the type of periodicals needed for a given research project. Magazines may be appropriate for some purposes, journals of opinion for others, but usually the most important sources for college level research are academic journals. The definitions below will help you understand these terms.
Another distinction made about research materials is between primary and secondary sources.
The actual transcript of a trial is PRIMARY information while an article about the trial that only provides some quotes and reports by eyewitnesses is SECONDARY information.
Refereed or peer-reviewed journals are journals where the quality of the articles is maintained by a review process by experts prior to publication. Several databases including ProQuest Central , PsycInfo and WilsonWeb allow users to limit their search to refereed or scholarly journals only. Use Ulrich's Periodicals Directory to confirm that the scholarly journals presented are peer-reviewed journals.
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