Skip to Main Content

BIOL 100 Survey of Biology (O'Reilly)

Identifying Periodicals

What are periodicals and how do we identify them?

Periodicals = anything that is published on a regular (periodic) basis.

Periodicals can be broken down into groups, such as:
  • newspapers (usually published daily)
  • popular magazines (often published weekly or monthly)
  • scholarly journals (usually published monthly, every other month, quarterly, or twice a year)
Scholarly journals 
  • are focused on an academic discipline such as history or nursing
  • are usually written by and for scholars, researchers, and professionals
  • include lengthy articles that often describe research studies
  • are usually peer-reviewed, which means a group of scholars review articles before they are published in the journal
  • are not flashy and don't usually includes photos and advertisements
Popular magazines
  • are usually written by journalists for the general public
  • include articles that are often short and cover a wide range of topics
  • are flashy, glossy, and include many photos and advertisements in order to attract attention

Identifying Scholarly Journal Articles

It can be more difficult to identify scholarly journals when they're online. Here are some tips to help you:

  1. Usually, the author's credentials will be listed somewhere (often on the first page of the article), and they should show that the author is a professional in the discipline.
  2. The article title is often long and descriptive, giving a clear idea of what the article is about.
  3. The article itself may be quite long (more than 7 pages).
  4. The article is written in scholarly, discipline-specific language.
  5. The article may present a research study which includes sections describing methodology, results, discussion, and a conclusion.
  6. There will likely be a long Bibliography or References list at the end of the article.
  7. The word "journal," "quarterly," or "review" is in the periodical's title. This by itself does not make the article scholarly, but along with the criteria above, it is another clue.