Journals, magazines, and newspapers are called periodicals because they are published periodically - daily, weekly, fortnightly, monthly, bimonthly, annually, etc. Some periodicals are in print format, some are on microfilm or microfiche, and many are avaialble electronically on the web or through the library's databases.
Journals are scholarly or academic publications. They contain research articles published by scholars in the field. Most journals are published by professional organizations (Example: American Literature Association) or university presses (Example: Oxford University Press) or learned societies (Example: Modern Language Association). Journal articles are lengthy and contain a bibliography of works consulted by the author(s). If you are asked to find peer-reviewed or refereed articles for your paper you should find articles from journals. Articles from peer-reviewed journals go through an extensive review process where experts from the field review the article to insure the article's quality. Not all journals are peer -reviewed.
How do you know if a journal is peer-reviewed?
To determine if a print journal is peer-reviewed, check the front or back of the journal for information about the editor, publisher, publication, price and whether it is peer-reviewed or not. If you don't see "peer-reviewed" there, check for information about submission of articles. This information is usually found within the first few pages of the journal. If they ask for multiple copies of an article, most likely it is peer-reviewed as this is an indication that the article may be submitted to other reviewers.
Most databases in the library allow you to limit your search to scholarly or peer-reviewed publications. In some databases, the check box for peer-reviewed journals is in the basic search screen as in MLA International Bibliography. In others, it may be in advanced search. In some databases such as Literary Reference Center, the articles are labeled "Academic Journal" "Periodical", "Review", etc.
If you are unsure whether a journal is peer-reviewed or not, check the Ulrich's International Periodicals Directory Database. Ulrich's provides publishing information on periodicals of all types. Journals that are refereed are indicated by a referee's jersey symbol. For help with using Ulrich's, consult this tutorial.
Sample journal article:
This articles is from the JSTOR database, a trusted digital depository of academic journals and scholarly articles from around the world. It has been cited 21 times according to Google Scholar. From searching the relevant library databases (MLA, Digital Dissertations) we know the author's dissertation was on Shakespeare and she has authored a few articles as well. She was affiliated with an educational institution, Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia. This article was published in African Studies Review, a refereed journal from the Cambridge University Press (information gathered from Ulrich's Periodicals Directory Database). The bibliography at the end of the article lists books written by Achebe scholars and articles published in reputed journals. This is a valuable, scholarly, peer-reviewed article that can definitely be used in a college essay.
Magazines are written for the general reader. Magazine articles are much shorter than journal articles and are written by a freelancer or a journalist and are not in-depth like journal articles. They usually do not contain a bibliography. They are good sources of current information and contain news and opinions rather than critical analysis or commentaries. Because they are written for the layperson, magazine articles are not researched or documented to the same extent as journal articles.
To find journal or magazine articles on Things Fall Apart, search the following databases:
LION Literature Online (Chadwyck Healey)
Literary Reference Center (EBSCO)
Literature Resource Center (Gale)
MLA International Bibliography (Ebsco)
Sample Periodical Article:
This article is from the Academic Search Premier database, one of the leading databases for college research. It was published in "New African", a consumer magazine which contains general, political and financial news reports, commentaries, and features on social and cultural affairs. The author, Cameron Duodu, is a novelist from Ghana who studied in the UK. He has worked as a freelance journalist for some of the best newspapers, the Gurardian, the Observer, and Financial Times.There is no list of references as this article is an opinion article, not a research article. The focus is on the author's personal experiences with the politics of the publishing industry, the anit-Biafran reporting in British newspapers, and how racism thwarted the efforts of some African writers. The author lauds Achebe for his breakthrough in the publishing industry which helped to open the doors for other African writers. Aside from the acknowledgement of this major contribution, and a few photographs, the article does not have much information on Achebe and the title is somewhat misleading. Although this is a good magazine article from a legitimate source, it may not have the information you need for your paper. It is always a good idea to read the abstract of the article to see whether it is relevant to your research. Most databases provide a brief summary of the article.
Newspapers, like magazines, are meant for the general reader. The articles are written by an editor or news reporter and contain articles about current events, editorials, feature stories, informative articles, editorials, book reviews, obituaries, advertising, etc. While newspaper articles can be interesting, they should not be used for scholarly research. For certain topics it may be necessary to research newspaper articles. For example, if you were looking for ephemera about the civil war period, or women's speeches or writings from the suffragette movement you may need to research newspapers of that time period. But for a literary essay on "Things Fall Apart", a newspaper is not considered a good source.
To find book reviews and news about authors and their works, search the folllowing databases:
Sample Newspaper Article:
This is an article from the New York Times, a reputed news source, and was written by Selden Rodman, a graduate of Yale University, a prolific writer and folk art advocate. The article is a review of Achebe's Things Fall Apart. We learn about the character flaws in Okonkwo and his son and the influence Christanity had on Nigerian natives during British imperialism. Although well-written, it is not a research article; there are no external links or references; it gives very little information about the book. Further research needs to be done in order to understand the themes and characters.