SWRK 330 - Social Work Research Methods

Characteristics of a Scholarly Journal

What is a scholarly journal and how is it different from a magazine or newspaper? All three are called periodicals because they are published at periodic intervals throughout the year.

  • Scholarly or peer-reviewed journals have collections of articles written by experts in academic or professional fields. Journals are excellent for finding out what has been studied or researched on a topic and to find bibliographies that point to other relevant sources of information. Examples are: Journal of PsychologyJournal of Consumer MarketingLancet and Nursing Ethics, The word "journal" is not necessarily in the title of a scholarly publication.
  • Magazines are good sources of information or opinions about popular culture or up-to-date information on current events. Popular magazines typically have colorful covers and lots of advertisements. Examples are Newsweek, Sports Illustrated and National Geographic. Articles are often written by journalists, not by scholars. 
  • Newspapers are usually published daily and are a great source of local information, editorials, and opinions. Most newspapers now publish Web sites. Examples of newspapers are the Wall Street Journal and New York Times.

Characteristics of a Scholarly Article

  • Always cite their sources in the form of footnotes or bibliographies
  • Are written by an authority or expert in the field whose credentials are prominently stated
  • Often have a formal appearance with tables, graphs, and diagrams 
  • The language includes specialized terms and the jargon of the discipline
  • Expected audience of researchers, professors, or students in the field
  • Usually have a narrow or specific subject focus
  • Contain original research, experimentation, or in-depth studies in the field
  • Lengthy articles, typically more than 7 pages and often over 20 pages
  • Advertising is minimal or none

Scholarly vs Popular vs Trade Journals

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