Skip to main content

ACCESS & AU International Students: Magazines vs Journals

Scholarly or Not?

For some assignments, your instructor may require you to locate information in scholarly research journals, but how can you easily know the differences between a scholarly journal and a popular magazine?  This sort of basic evaluation is a necessary part of the research process, and a means for you to sharpen your critical thinking skills. Some of the ways that a research journal typically differs from a popular magazine are:

Scholarly journal articles will indicate authors and their academic credentials; popular magazines may not always list the author.

Scholarly journal articles will include footnotes, endnotes, bibliographies, or reference lists; popular magazine articles very rarely do this.

Scholarly journal articles focus on research; popular magazines focus on current events & topics of general interest, and include lots of ads for consumer products.

Scholarly journal articles are reviewed and fully critiqued by subject experts for research accuracy & importance before being published; popular magazines are not as rigorous.

Where you find publications for sale is a clue.  It may be difficult to locate scholarly journals at all outside of research libraries; popular magazines are usually much easier to find.


Scholarly journals are usually published two or  four times a year; popular magazines may be published
daily, weekly, or monthly.

Evaluate These Articles

Click on the links below for Articles 1 and 2.  Take a look at each of the articles.  Use the tips above to evaluate each article.  Which one is the scholarly article?  Or the article that would be most appropriate for a research project? 

Cast your vote.

Evaluate These Articles
Article 1: 0 votes (0%)
Article 2: 0 votes (0%)
Total Votes: 0




Newsweek (Popular Magazine)       

*Purpose: To entertain, market, or promote a viewpiont                              

  • Articles are written by staff or journalists    
  • Articles are not peer reviewed
  • Reading level is basic
  • Articles are shorter on average
  • There are advertisements and glossy
  • color photos.
  • Lacks references or works cited lists

 The Historian (Scholarly Journal)

*Purpose: To contribute to the evolving body of knowledge within an academic discipline

  • Articles are written by experts that have credentials
  • Articles are peer reviewed
  • Reading level is advanced
  • Longer more structured articles
  • Has a list of references, citations or bibliography at the end of each article