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Library Tutorial: What's A Periodical?

How to do basic library tasks: searching the catalog, finding library materials, getting into the online resources

What is a periodical?

A periodical is anything that comes out with regular issues. A daily newspaper, a weekly news magazine, a monthly journal, and an annual book series are all examples of periodicals.

Some periodicals are published in ways that make them more valuable to scholars. Periodicals that are "scholarly", "refereed", or "peer-reviewed" all have articles that are reviewed by experts in the subject. For other types of periodicals, the articles may be reviewed by a professional editor who is not an expert in the subject.

How to find periodical articles

To find periodical articles, click on the down arrow next to "Search everything at SCSU" on the library home page and select "Articles and e-books". Enter your search in the box provided and click on the search icon. You will be able to modify your search by using the limiters on the left panel of your search results page.

Alternatively, you can search a database (or databases) to find articles on your topic/subject. Here are some useful databases that provide information on various topics:

Academic Search Premier 
CQ Researcher
Main File
Newspaper Source Plus
Opposing Viewpoints
Topic Search

Types of Periodicals

Types of Periodicals



Scholarly & Research Journals

Professional, Trade & Industry Journals

Journals of Commentary & Opinion


Popular Magazines


American Historical Review


New England Journal of Medicine

Social Psychology Quarterly


Library Journal

Science Teacher

Restaurants and Institutions

Mother Jones

National Review


New Republic

New York Times

Washington Post

Christian Science Monitor

Wall Street Journal



Sports Illustrated

Reader's Digest


Values & Uses

Reports of original research;

In depth analysis of issues related to the discipline; Lengthy articles. 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 and product reviews

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

Current information; News stories; Local and regional focus; Classified ads; Editorials; Speeches; some 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; some book reviews


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, often simple language


Researchers, academics,  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 short bibliographies

Rarely cite any sources in full

Rarely cite any sources


Universities, scholarly presses or academic and research or professional 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; Do not contain  glossy ads

Photographs, charts, tables, illustrations of all sorts;ads related to the profession

Varies a lot; Some very plain, some have graphics, colors and ads

Pictures, charts, ads of all sorts

Glitzy, many graphics and pictures; full of color ads

Gradowski, Gail, Loanne Snavely, and Paula Dempsey. Designs for Active Learning: A Sourcebook of Classroom 

  Strategies for Information Education. Chicago (Ill.): Association of College & Research Libraries, 1998. Print.