Here's a good explanation from Vanderbilt University -- along with helpful graphics -- about telling the difference between magazines and journals.
We often think of Scholarly Journal Articles as more credible and having more authority than Popular Magazine Articles. Because of this faculty often will request students to find articles from a scholarly or academic journal not from a popular magazine for their research.
When you select articles for research, you need to view the full text of the article to distinguish between scholarly and popular materials. Use the information below to help you identify if an article is from a scholarly journal or a popular magazine.
|Scholarly Journals||Popular Magazines|
|Author||The authors of scholarly journal articles are considered to be experts or noted professionals in the field.
The authors are often college or university professors or a working professional in the field.
|The authors of popular magazines are not usually experts in the field.
The author is often a journalst, student, or staff writer for the publication. Sometimes there may not be a listed author.
|Advertising||Scholarly Journals will contain little if any advertising. Any advertising is highly specialized.||Popular Magazines will usually contain an extensive amount of advertising aimed at the general public.|
|Audience||The audience is often professors studying in a particular field and students researching a topic. The vocabularly is highly specialized.||The audience is usually the general public. The vocabulary is for the general reader.|
|Bibliography or Works Cited
||Usually includes an extensive list of references at the end of the articles.||Will rarely include references at the end of the articles.|
|Level of Language
||Language is a higher level for experts in the field. Topics are narrowly focused.||Language is written at a general level. Topics are general in focus.|
||Focus on leading edge research.||Focus on current events and general interest items.|
||Articles are reviewed by peers and experts in the field.||Articles are usually reviewed by the editors of the publication.|
Thanks to the reference staff at Weber State University (Utah) for the use of the template for this guide.