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COM 270 Research Methods in Communication: Magazines vs Journals

Help with doing research in Communication Studies.

Scholarly or Not?

For most of your assignments, your instructor may require you to locate information in scholarly research journals (these are sometimes referred to as peer-reviewed journals, or academic journals) How can you easily know the differences between a scholarly journal and a popular magazine?  This 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.




Newsweek (Popular Magazine)       

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

  • Articles are written by staff or journalists, not practicing experts    
  • Articles are not peer reviewed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 who 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

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