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Evaluating Periodicals

Evaluating Periodicals

Periodicals are publications that come out periodically, e.g. weekly, monthly, quarterly. They are the best sources to use for up-to-date information. Some common types of periodicals are:

Newspapers New York Times
Magazines Time, Sports Illustrated, People Weekly, Parents
Journals Journal of Consumer Research, Lancet, Family Law Quarterly, Psychological Review, American Journal of Physics
Trade Journals Fashion Business International, Concrete Construction, Hotel Business, Nation's Restaurant News
Newsletters Nutrition Action Health Letter
  • Newspaper articles are written by reporters, to give a current reporting of the facts on a daily or weekly basis.
  • Newsletters are usually published weekly or monthly and attempt to keep an interested public (often professionals in a discipline) informed about the latest research, news or government action on their topic.
  • Trade journals are aimed at people who work in a specific industry, to keep them informed of latest developments in that industry.
  • Magazines and journals have some distinct differences between them that we should look at in more detail.
General public Scholarly reader (Professor, student, researcher)
Authors Journalist or Generalist Scholar or Researcher in the Discipline
Frequency Weekly, Monthly Monthly, Quarterly, Semi Annual, Annual
References Usually no bibliography Bibliography or References
Form Often written like a story Usually has a specific structure. May be reporting research results with statistics, methodology, etc.
Format Attractive, glossy photos, cartoons Often plain, "boring appearance," tables, graphs
Ads Lots! of all kinds Often none, or for special products in the discipline
Publisher Commercial publisher May be sponsored by a professional association

Generally, scholarly journals are expected as periodical resources when doing any in-depth research. If you are preparing a speech for a general audience or an English 101 term paper, magazines can be acceptable sources of information.

All types of periodicals have their place in providing information. If in doubt about what is appropriate for the type of research you are doing, check with your instructor.