Popular, Scholarly & Trade Publications: What is Scholarly, Trade & Popular?

Are you required to find a scholarly article for class? Learn what makes an article scholarly, trade, or popular so you know what to look for!

Comparing Scholarly, Trade, & Popular Periodicals

Wondering if an article you found is from a scholarly journal, trade magazine, or popular magazine? Use this chart to understand the common characteristics of these three types of periodicals.






Journals, print and online
("Academic" or "Peer reviewed")

Magazines and newspapers,
print and online

Publications, print and online

How to spot the differences
between these types of periodicals?

Developmental Psychology TIME Magazine APA Monitor


  • Report scholarly research - primary source
  • Share expertise
  • Inform, entertain, cover, sell - secondary source
  • Currents events, hot  issues,
  • Commentaries on social/political issues
  • News and practical information for field or discipline


  • Experts in the field - researchers, scholars, professors, academics
  • Credentials and affiliations provided
  • Often more than one author
  • Journalists, freelance or staff writers
  • Credentials and affiliations not usually provided
  • Usually just one author
  • Practitioners in the field, journalists with subject expertise
  • Credentials and affiliations may be provided
  • May be more than one author


  • Scholarly readers - professors, researchers or students, professionals in the field
  • General public
  • Professionals in the field, researchers, interested segments of the general public


  • Specialized teminology and jargon of the field
  • Non-technical language
  • Easy to understand
  • Technical terminology and jargon of the field

Article Structure

  • More formal and structured
  • May include these sections: abstract, literature review, methodology, results, conclusion, bibliography
  • Do not necessarily follow a specific format or structure
  • Do not necessarily follow a specific format or structure

Article Length

  • Generally longer articles
  • Provide in-depth analysis of topics
  • Generally shorter articles
  • Provide broader overviews of topics
  • Short to medium-length articles


  • Sources cited in endnotes, footnotes, and/or bibliographies
  • Rarely formally cite sources
  • May mention names of reports or references - information is often second or third hand
  • Often mention sources
  • May formally cite them in bibliographies


  • Limited illustrations
  • Support the article content
  • Tables, graphs, maps
  • Many illustrations
  • Support the article content, advertising
  • Graphics, photos
  • Some illustrations
  • Support the article content, targeted advertising
  • Tables, graphs, charts, photos


  • Little or no advertising.
  • If present, will be for books, other journals, and academic conferences
  • Significant amount of advertising
  • Often for consumer products - cars, food, clothing, hobby items, etc.
  • Some advertising
  • Often for specific products used by people in that profession


  • Editors accept articles submitted by authors
  • Usually reviewed by peer scholars (referees) not employed by the journal
  • Editors assign or commission authors to write specific articles.
  •  Editors on staff may evaluate articles
  • Editors assign, commission, or accept articles
  • Editors on staff may evaluate article


  • Published monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, or annually
  • Usually published weekly, monthly, or daily
  • Usually published weekly or monthly


  • Annals of Cardiac Anaesthesia
  • Modern Fiction Studies
  • Journal of Educational Research
  • American Historical Review
  • Social Psychology Quarterly
  • BioScience
  • Business Week
  • Time
  • New York Times
  • Glamour
  • Sports Illustrated
  • Atlantic
  • Restaurant Business
  • Travel Weekly
  • PC Magazine
  • Advertising Age
  • RN
  • Psychology Today