APIA Heritage Month, April 8-May 16

Keeping in mind that the lines drawn between types of periodicals aren't always totally clear-cut, the general characteristics of these three categories of journals are summarized in the chart below:

Comparison Chart: Periodicals - Scholarly or Non-Scholarly?

  JAMA Journal of the American Medical Association Smithsonian Magazine Spin Magazine
Characteristics SCHOLARLY NON-SCHOLARLY  
    General Interest/ Substantive Popular
Authors Scholars in the discipline or those who have done extensive research in the field such as university professors or government/research agencies or organizations Written by magazine's staff (who may or may not be experts on the topic), scholars, or free-lance writers Written by staff or free-lance writers employed by the publication
Language Uses language of the discipline, which may be difficult to understand at first, because it may contain specialized, technical or professional language. Uses language aimed at a general, educated audience Uses everyday language, or even inflammatory or sensational language aimed at a broad-based audience
Sources Authors rigorously cite sources in the form of footnotes or bibliographies May quote other experts on the topic but not explain who they are, or give statistics or "facts", but not say where they came from Rarely cites sources; original sources can be obscure
Purpose/Audience Main purpose is to educate; to report on original research or experimentation in order to share with other scholars Provides general information to a wide audience Written to entertain, inform, or provoke a reaction
Publisher/Editorial Board Many are published by a specific professional organization. Editorial board evaluates the article for its quality of writing, rigorous scholarship, analysis, or research and findings before accepting them for publication. Generally published by commercial enterprises for profit. May have editorial staff employed by the publisher. Published by commercial enterprises for profit
Peer-reviewed or Refereed Have a process prior to publishing an article whereby other scholars in the author's field or specialty critically assess article draft. Not peer-reviewed or refereed Not peer-reviewed or refereed
Format Few pictures or photographs, but may have charts, tables, or graphs Attractive in appearance; includes photographs, illustrations to enhance appeal Slick and glossy with an attractive format; contains photographs, illustrations to enhance appeal
Examples Harvard Business Review, Journal of the American Anthropological Society, Modern Fiction Studies, Science Fortune, New York Times, Scientific American, Wall Street Journal, National Geographic Better Homes and Gardens, Glamour, Sports Illustrated, Star Weekly
Adapted from: http://library.humboldt.edu/infoservices/scholorpop.htm. Originally written by Martha Johansen, Humboldt State University Library.