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Sources of Information


For your class research and in your everyday life, articles are an important source of information, so we want to talk in more detail about the different types of articles and their best uses. Most articles are published in Periodicals or Serials, which are publications that are published on an ongoing basis (daily, weekly, monthly, etc.), such as journals, magazines, and newspapers. These articles and publications can be published electronically (online) and/or published in print.

We are going to talk about three different types of periodicals: Academic or Scholarly Publications, Professional or Trade Publications, and Popular Publications.

Scholarly Articles

Cover of Research on Technology in EducationCover of Social Work Research

What are Academic or Scholarly Publications?

Academic or Scholarly Publications are journals or other publications that aim to advance knowledge, educate, & discuss important topics in a field or subject area. Many Academic or Scholarly Publications are also peer-reviewed journals, but not all! Typically, articles from these publications provide in-depth, primary accounts of original research, but they can also include articles that review products or discuss developments in the field.

Cover of American Journal of Criminal Justice

Cover of Journal of Health Services Research & Policy
  • Authors & Editors: Written by scholar(s), researcher(s), or subject specialist(s) who did the research described in the article; articles are often evaluated by peer-reviewers or referees who are experts in the field. Learn more about the peer review process.
  • Audience: Other experts and researchers in a field, professionals in a specific industry, and interested non-specialists
  • Appearance & Format: Uses specialized terminology or jargon. Often follows a format that includes an Abstract, Literature Review, Methodology, and other sections. View the typical format here.
  • Citation: Bibliography or references are required.

Trade Articles

HR Focus coverComputer Weekly cover

What are Professional or Trade Publications?

Professional or Trade Publications are journals, magazines, or other publications like newsletters that aim to provide practical industry information. Articles from these publications provide current news, trends, & products in a specific field or industry.


  • Health Management Technology coverApplied Arts magazine coverAuthor & Editors: Written by industry professionals or journalist who have subject expertise; evaluated by editorial staff who may be experts (not peer-reviewed). Often published by professional organizations.
  • Audience: Professionals in a specific industry and interested non-specialists.
  • Appearance & Format: Uses specialized terminology or jargon of the profession, but not as technical as scholarly publications or as long.
  • Citation: Brief Bibliography may be included, but not required.

Popular Articles

What are Popular Publications?

The Washington Post coverTime magazine cover

Popular publications are newspapers, magazines, blogs, and other publications that aim to entertain and inform readers. Articles from these publications may discuss someone else’s research, include narrative or opinion, or present general information.

  • Author & Editors: Written by journalists or writers who are paid to write on subjects they may or may not have subject expertise in; evaluated by editorial staff, not experts in the field
  • Audience: General public, interested non-specialistsThe EconomistNational Geographic cover
  • Appearance & Format: Uses language that is easily understandable to most readers, articles tend to be shorter, uses appealing graphics and catchy language to entice readers.
  • Citation: Bibliography or sources rarely provided

If you are experiencing problems with our guides and databases, please contact ProfessorJanet S. Ward,, Assistant Director of the Library and Web Services Librarian.