Journal vs. Magazine Comparison Chart
A chart to help you determine the differences between magazines and journals.

Last update: June 20, 2012 ShareThis

Many indexes (especially those which are online) contain references to both scholarly journals and popular magazines. Telling the difference between the two can be very confusing, as there is no clear-cut definition of what is a scholarly journal.

A scholarly journal will exhibit the majority of the features listed in the comparison table below. If you are in doubt about any specific publication, please consult your instructor or ask a reference librarian for assistance.




AUDIENCE general public scholars or researchers in a specified field
STYLE journalistic; written for the average reader written for researchers in a specified field
CONTENT current events; articles of general interest specialized articles; research topics limited to specific subject areas
AUTHORSHIP journalist; layperson; often author name is not given expert or researcher in field; author is identified and credentials often noted
DOCUMENTATION few or no references or notes includes notes; cites reference; lists bibliographies
REVIEW PROCESS edited/reviewed in-house only refereed or peer reviewed by outside scholars in the field covered
APPEARANCE glossy paper; many pictures (black/white and color) mostly print; few pictures; no glossy paper
ADVERTISEMENTS many, often in color few if any
PUBLISHER commercial publishers usually professional associations or academic bodies
FREQUENCY weekly, monthly, bi-monthly bi-monthly, quarterly, semi-annually
INDEXING general periodical indexes (Reader's Guide, etc.) subject specific indexes (Humanities Index, Social Sciences Index, etc.)