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Journals vs. Magazines: Home

What is Peer Reviewed?

What is a Peer-Reviewed Article? 

Scholarly journals are also called academic, peer-reviewed, or refereed journals. Strictly speaking, peer-reviewed journals refer only to those scholarly journals that submit articles to several other scholars, experts, or academics (peers) in the field for review and comment. These reviewers must agree that the article represents properly conducted original research or writing before it can be published.

What to look for:

  • Scholarly journal articles often have an abstract, a descriptive summary of the article contents, before the main text of the article.
  • Scholarly journals generally have a sober, serious look. They often contain many graphs and charts but few glossy pages or exciting pictures.
  • Scholarly journals always cite their sources in the form of footnotes or bibliographies. These bibliographies are generally lengthy and cite other scholarly writings.
  • Articles are written by a scholar in the field or by someone who has done research in the field. The affiliations of the authors are listed, usually at the bottom of the first page or at the end of the article, universities, research institutions, think tanks, and the like.
  • The language of scholarly journals is that of the discipline covered. It assumes some technical background on the part of the reader.
  • The main purpose of a scholarly journal is to report on original research or experimentation in order to make such information available to the rest of the scholarly world.
  • Many scholarly journals, though by no means all, are published by a specific professional organization.

Adapted from Olin Library Reference, Research & Learning Services, Cornell University Library, Ithaca, NY, USA. 

Peer Review Process in 4 steps: 

  • Author (or authors) writes article and submits to journal;
  • If meets the journal's criteria, editor sends copy to peers (experts in the field) for reviewing;
  • The peer reviewers check the manuscript for accuracy and assess the validity of the research methodology and procedures;
  • Paper accepted and published, then usually listed in databases for other researchers to find and read, to inform their writing. 

Journals vs. Magazines

What's the difference between popular and scholarly sources?



Popular Sources

(Magazines & Newspaper articles)

Scholarly Sources

(Journal articles)

About GENERAL INTEREST or POPULAR MAGAZINES do not undergo peer review. They usually have an attractive format with photos and illustrations. They are frequently written for a general audience by a staff or scholarly writer. The language is simple and easy to understand. The purpose of these publications is to provide general information, entertain, and sometimes sell products. They are published by commercial enterprises for profit. Use popular interest journals if you only require general information about a topic. Do not expect to find substantial detail or in-depth analysis SCHOLARLY JOURNALS are often refereed to as peer-reviewed, academic or refereed journals. They contain articles that have undergone a review process by selected experts in the field before being accepted for publication. They have a serious format and usually have charts and graphs to illustrate concepts. All of the sources are cited with footnotes and/or a bibliography. Scholars or researchers in a specific discipline or field write the articles. The material uses the terminology and language of the discipline and, the reader is expected to have a similar background. The purpose of these journals is to report or make research available to the scholarly world. Many of these journals are published by a professional organization. Use scholarly journals if you need verifiable and highly credible information. Scholarly journals often feature primary research with detailed analysis
Appearance Attractive appearance, Eye-catching cover
Pictures and illustrations in color
Glossy paper
Usually plain cover
May contain graphs, charts or case studies
Plain paper
Audience Non-professionals, General public
Written in non-technical language
Professors, scholars, researchers, or students
Written in the technical language of the field
Authors Journalist or professional writers Researchers, scholars, faculty
Content Personalities, news, and general interest articles
A wide variety of subjects
Articles written by staff, may be unsigned
Report original research, discoveries, or experimentation; specific topics
Publish research projects, their methodology, and significance
Articles written by contributing authors, with institution indicated
Advertisements Heavy Few or none
Reviewers Reviewed by editors Reviewed by editors, peers, and referees
Publisher Commercial Professional associations, academic institutions, commercial publisher
Frequency Published on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis Published on a monthly, quarterly, or annual basis
Documentation Few or no bibliographic references Bibliographic references (footnotes, end notes, etc.)

TIme magazine cover    National Geographic Cover    People magazine cover

National Geographic
National Wildlife

Social Forces journal cover    Journal of Food Science and Technology    Healthcare Management journal cover  

Biology of the Cell
Social Forces
Journal of Food Science and Technology
Journal of Health Care Management

Adapted from

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