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SOCI 1301 SO: What is a Scholarly Journal?

How to Distinguish Scholarly Journals from Popular Magazines

Scholarly journals differ from popular magazines in a number of important ways. Popular magazines are produced for a wide audience and provide basic information and/or entertainment. Scholarly journals are written for scholars, students, and researchers and exist to advance the cause of research in a given field.

Here are some clues that will help you identify scholarly journals. Scholarly journals:

  • Usually contain an abstract, or summary, before the main text of the article.
  • Contain reports of research results.
  • Always cite their sources with footnotes and/or bibliographies.
  • Have serious formats rather than the glossy, slick formats found in popular magazines.
  • Contain graphs or charts detailing the research described by the article.
  • Are written by scholars or researchers. The authors’ affiliations will be listed on the first page or at the end of the article.
  • Are usually published by a professional organization.
  • Assume some technical background on the part of the reader—the language used is discipline-specific.


Scholarly vs. Popular Periodicals

This video from the Peabody Library at Vanderbilt University explains the difference between scholarly and popular periodicals.

Limiting Your Searches to Scholarly Journals

A number of TCC's Library databases will enable you to limit your searches to academic journals. It's as simple as putting a checkmark in the appropriate box, as illustrated below.

 Scholarly Journals Search

Looking for a Specific Journal Title?

A number of TCC's Library databases will allow you to search for journals by title. In the example below, we clicked on "Publications" in Academic Search Complete to get to this page. From here, we can browse the alphabetical list of titles or enter a specific journal title in the search box.


 Journal Title Search