Skip to Main Content

COMM 486W: Telecommunications Ethics

Course guide for Dr. Warshel's COMM 486W

Comparison of Types of Journals

The information below can help you understand the differences between scholarly journals, professional/trade journals, and popular periodicals. 

​Peer Reviewed = Scholarly?  Not always. Scholarly implies an academic audience whereas some non-scholarly works can undergo editorial review or review by peers.
Comparison of Scholarly, Professional, and Popular Periodicals
Criteria Scholarly Journals Professional/Trade Journals Popular Periodicals/ Magazines
Audience Researchers and experts Members of a trade or profession The general public
Author Researchers and experts Staff writers and experts in the field Staff writers, although many articles are unsigned
References (Sources cited) Includes reference lists and bibliography. All quotes and facts are documented. Reference lists sometimes included. References rarely included.
Purpose To disseminate research findings  To publicize current topics in the field and professional issues To disseminate general information or to entertain
Content Detailed research reports and methodologies  Trends, standards, and new technologies in the field General interest stories and news; may include personal narrative and opinions
Language Jargon that assumes expertise in the field Jargon that assumes expertise in the field Language that requires no expertise
Publisher Associations or universities Associations Commercial organizations
Layout Highly structured organization; includes abstract, bibliography, charts or graphs Structured organization; usually includes abstract, bibliography, charts or graphs Informal organization: eye-catching type and format; includes illustrations or photographs

Journal of the American Medical Association; Journal of Refugee Studies; Political Science Quarterly

Hospital Business Week; ASHA Leader; Modern Healthcare; Farm Industry News Time; Newsweek; Science News

Other Types of Content

  • Content from reliable newspapers can be useful for current information.
  • Reliable organizations often publish useful content for the public. An agency like UNICEF often provides data and articles that are useful to researchers.
  • Encyclopedia and Handbook entries are written by experts in the field and provide useful background information.
  • Statistical sources such as the Statistical Abstract of the United States or the CIA World Factbook can provide reliable data for researchers to use.
  • Websites, like any other content, must be evaluated for reliability and accuracy. Associations and organizations that publish journal and trade publications often have websites with useful information. However, that does not mean that the content of the website can be classified as scholarly or as a trade publication.
  • Articles or blogs that summarize or review a scholarly work are not scholarly.

Scholarly Books

Ask yourself questions about books that reflect the same criteria for journal articles in the above chart.

  • What qualification does the author have to write this book?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Have experts in the field reviewed the content before the book was published?
  • Is there a bibliography documenting the source of the facts and quotes used?
  • Who is the publisher?

Scholarly Articles

Video courtesy: University of Wisconsin-Madison Libraries