Periodical Types

Last update: June 20, 2012 ShareThis

A periodical is a type of publication that appears at regular, predictable, short intervals.  They include such items as magazines, scholarly or professional journals, industry/trade journals, newspapers, and newsletters.

When doing research, it is important to understand the differences between popular/general interest magazines, scholarly/professional journals, and industry/trade journals.  Click on the links below to see an explanation of each type.

Often, an instructor will specify that you limit your research to scholarly or professional journals.  If, after checking the descriptions above, you are still uncertain as to the category of the journal you are using, please ask a reference librarian for help in making this determination.

The Ebsco and Gale databases include a check box to limit your search, in most cases, to articles that have been published in scholarly or professional journals by checking the box to limit your search to "peer reviewed" or "refereed publications."  

To assist you in identifying scholarly/professional journals as opposed to magazines, check out this quick magazine/journal comparison chart.

Popular/General Interest Magazines
The term magazine is usually applied to popular or consumer type publications that are generally for sale on newsstands.  

Scholarly/Peer Reviewed/Professional Journals
Scholarly journals publish original research in the sciences and social sciences, and essays, criticism, and reviews in the humanities.  They are subject specific in focus, are written for the use of scholars, and are seldom sold by the issue on newsstands.

Industry/Trade Journals
Industry or trade journals contain articles concerning a specific industry.  These publications are usually sold only by subscription, though some can be found for sale on the newsstand.