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Periodicals Department: What is a periodical?


Depending on your research you may want to use different types of periodicals.  For example, if you are doing research on the future of stem cells you may want to use peer reviewed journals as opposed to a magazine.  You may find many articles on the topic you are researching but you want to use the most credible sources on the subject. 

This page will help you learn to identify different types of periodicals to aid you in your research.


Peer Reviewed Journal

A peer-reviewed publication (also know as refereed) defines itself through a stringent editorial process conducted by experts in the field. Articles must be screened, usually by an editorial board, before being accepted for publication.

There are several methods for finding peer-reviewed journals:

  • Ask A Librarian
  • Many of our databases allow you to "filter" your search for peer-reviewed journals.
  • Consults Ebsco's Serials Directory below



Scholarly & Research Journals

Professional, Trade & Industry Journals

Journals of Commentary & Opinion


Popular Magazines


American Historical Review

Journal of Educational      Research

Social Psychology  Quarterly


Science Teacher

Restaurants and Institutions

Mother Jones

National Review


New Republic

New York Times

Washington    Post

Christian Science Monitor

Wall Street Journal



Sports Illustrated


Values & Uses

Reports of original research;

In depth analysis of issues related to the discipline; Academic level book reviews; Refereed or peer-reviewed

Current trends, news & products in a field; Company, organization, & biographical information; Statistics, forecasts; Employment & career information; Book reviews

Commentaries on social & political issues; Some in-depth analysis; Political viewpoints, liberal, conservative & other; Sometimes acts as voice of activist organization; Speeches & interviews; Book reviews

Current information; Hard news; Local and regional information; Classified ads; Editorials; Speeches; Book reviews; Primary source for information on events

Current events; Hot topics;

Primary source for analysis of popular culture; Short articles; Generally not much depth; Interviews


Academic; Can be very technical; Uses the language of the discipline

Written for practitioners; Can use jargon extensively

Written for a general educated audience

Written for a general educated audience

Non-technical language


Researchers, academics, professors, scholars, etc.

Practitioners in the field or journalists with subject expertise

Extremely variable; Can be academics, journalists, representatives of various “groups”


Generally, journalists and freelance writers


Footnotes and bibliographies, Often very extensive documentation

Occasional brief bibliographies; Sources sometimes cited in text

Occasionally cite sources in text orprovide shortbibliographies

Rarely cite any sources in full

Rarely cite any sources


Universities, scholarly presses or academic and research organizations

Commercial publishers or professional and trade associations

Commercial publishers  or non-profit organizations

Commercial publishers

Commercial publishers


Graphs, charts, formulas, depending on the discipline; No glossy ads here at all

Photographs, charts, tables, illustrations of all sorts;glossy ads

Wide variety of appearances; Some very plain, others lots of gloss

Pictures, charts, ads of all sorts

Very glossy; Full of color ads of all sorts