A periodical is a term used to describe any publication that is issued periodically — daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, or at some other interval. Examples of periodicals include newspapers, magazines, and scholarly journals. It is important to understand the difference between types of periodicals in order to find the most relevant materials for your information need.
Popular: Popular periodicals are also known as consumer magazines. They are directed at the general public, and can cover a broad or narrow topic of interest. They usually contain short articles on a variety of topics written by various authors in an informal style. They are useful for their coverage of current events and popular opinion.
Trade: Trade periodicals are also known as professional magazines. They are geared towards the interests of a specific industry or occupation. Articles usually fall somewhere between popular and scholarly—short to medium in length, can contain some advertisements or illustrations, and may or may not contain a bibliography. They are useful for their “insider” coverage of industry trends, practices, and opinions.
Academic: Academic periodicals are also known as scholarly journals or peer-reviewed journals. Written by and for professionals in a particular field, usually employing industry jargon or sophisticated terminology. They consist of original research and commentary on current developments within a specific discipline. Articles are often lengthy, include minimal illustrations and advertisements, and almost always include a bibliography. Useful for their original and rigorous approaches to problem solving by experts in a particular field.
Depending on the database you are using, articles may be displayed in different formats:
If you are not in the habit of reading scholarly journal articles, they can be difficult to read and understand. Here is a primer on how to read scholarly articles followed by a worksheet you can use to help you understand and evaluate a scholarly article.
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