Question #6: Journals and magazines are important sources for up-to-date information in all disciplines. With so many periodicals in which to choose from, it is often difficult to distinguish between the various levels of scholarship. In this guide we have divided the criteria for periodical literature into three categories: Scholarly, Popular, and Substantive

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Substantive periodicals are often heavily illustrated, generally with photographs. These periodicals sometimes cite sources. Articles may be written by a member of the editorial staff, a scholar or a free lance writer. The language of these publications is geared to any educated audience. They are generally published by commercial enterprises or individuals, although some emanate from specific professional organizations The main purpose of periodicals in this category is to provide information, in a general manner, to a broad audience of concerned citizens.
Scholarly journals generally have a sober, serious look. They often contain many graphs and charts but few glossy pages pictures. Scholarly journals always cite their sources in the form of footnotes or bibliographies. Articles are written by a scholar in the field or by someone who has done research in the field. The language of scholarly journals is that of the discipline covered. It assumes some scholarly background on the part of the reader. The main purpose of a scholarly journal is to report on original research or experimentation in order to make such information availableto the rest of the scholarly world.

Popular periodicals come in many formats, although often somewhat attractive in appearance. Lots of graphics appear. These publications rarely, if ever, cite sources. Information published in such journals is often second or third hand and the original source is sometimes obscure. Articles are usually very short, written in simple language and are designed to meet a minimal education level. There is generally little depth to the content of these articles. The main purpose of popular periodicals is to entertain the reader, to sell products, and/or to promote a viewpoint.