Serials, periodicals, journals. You might hear all of these words used at the library. But what do they mean?
Serials and periodicals refer to any title that publishes issues at regular intervals. This can refer to titles that are published annually, quarterly, monthly, weekly, or daily. Newspapers, magazines, journals, newsletters are all serials or periodicals.
Journals are a type of serial or periodical that typically publish scholarly articles.
Scholarly journals contain articles written by a scholar or researcher in a particular field or discipline. The language of the article relates to the discipline and assumes some scholarly background on the part of the reader. The main purpose of a scholarly article is to report original research. Many scholarly journals are published by professional organizations. The articles may contain charts and graphs instead of pictures and photographs and always cite sources in the form of bibliographies or footnotes. Journals have a serious and sober appearance.
These are what you see on the newsstand. The purpose of popular magazines is to provide news, entertainment, and information of a broad nature. Popular magazines contain articles of national or international interest and the information they contain can be quite useful. The articles are written by members of the editorial or reporting staff, a journalist, or a freelance writer. The language is geared towards a general audience. Some of the magazines are in newspaper format and almost all contain many pictures and photographs. They may be published by commercial organizations or individuals although some may come from professional organizations. Very rarely do they cite sources.
Newspapers are publications meant to inform readers of current events. These can be published daily, weekly, monthly, etc. Newspaper articles may be based on facts or opinions and are not peer-reviewed. They are considered a primary source when the article is describing an event firsthand.
Opinion magazines provide strong views on a topic. These make good starting points for a research paper as they provide information geared towards an educated audience interested in understanding the importance of current events and ideas. The information may be biased so readers should approach them with caution.
A trade magazine is published for and read by members of a particular trade group. The purpose of trade magazines is to provide information on current events and trends on a particular trade or industry. They are specialized news magazines and they contain news, information on products, advertisements, industry specific job notices, etc. They are generally published in glossy paper and contain pictures and photographs. Some trade magazines are free but most require subscription. Some trade magazines are in newspaper format.
Sensational periodicals generally appear in the form of newspapers. The purpose of these periodicals is to arouse curiosity and report shocking or obscure news. The language is sensational or inflammatory and many of these articles are written by freelancers. The information is questionable and assumes some gullibility in their audience. The headlines are eye-catching and astonishing.