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Magazines vs. Journals

Learn how to tell the difference between a magazine, meant for a general readership, and an academic journal.

Magazines vs. Journals

         Scholarly Journals Popular Magazines

Written for professionals within the field of study.

Written for the "average" person who doesn't have in-depth knowledge of a topic.

Authors are usually experts, often university researchers. Author’s credentials are usually included.
Author is usually a staff writer or journalist.  The author’s name is often not provided.
Content Research, analysis, scholarship. Often includes abstract, research, methods, conclusion, and a bibliography. Sources are always cited in the form of footnotes or bibliographies. Entertainment, opinion, current topics, quick facts. Rarely, if ever, cite sources.
Credibility Research articles must be reviewed by a panel of experts within the field before they are published. Articles are generally evaluated by staff editors rather than experts within the field.
Length Longer articles providing in depth analysis of topics. Articles are usually short (1-4 pages) and provide a broad overview of the topic.
Look Serious looking. May contain charts and graphs yet will rarely contain advertisements. Glossy, color pictures, advertisements.
Purpose Purpose is to report on original research to make the information available to the scholarly/scientific community. Purpose is to inform the general reader, entertain, promote a viewpoint, and/or sell products.
  • JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical  Association
  • Journal of Marriage and the Family
  • Studies in Short Fiction
  • Journal of American History
  • Science
  • Foreign Affairs
  • Shakespeare Quarterly
  • Journal of Animal Science
  • Newsweek
  • New Yorker
  • Time
  • Vogue
  • Psychology Today
  • Atlantic
  • Discover
  • National Review
  • People
  • Sports Illustrated


Which one of these is NOT like the others?

Can you spot which of these three periodicals is NOT a journal?

Stumped? Look at the examples of magazines and journals in the chart above.

         Cover of an issue of New Yorker                 

JAMA                      New Yorker      Shakespeare Quarterly