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Source Evaluation and Credibility: Journals and Magazines

Identify Journal Types

Scholarly/Academic

Popular

Trade/Professional

Articles from scholarly, peer-reviewed, academic, and refereed journals are more credible than articles from popular or trade journals ('magazines') because they have gone through the most rigorous review process.  They also have the most references or citations. Popular magazines are not considered to be a very credible source type because there is no peer review, and there are very few citations.  However, unlike blogs, published magazines usually do uphold journalistic standards of not publishing lies or slander that could result in litigation. Trade or professional journals bridge the gap between scholarly and popular sources in that they are aimed at a quite specific audience, yet can be enjoyed by the layman.

Identify academic / scholarly sources by these points:

Identify popular sources by these points:

Identify trade or professional journals by these points:

  • contain bibliographies or reference lists and sources cited
  • written for a specialized, academic audience
  • uses terminology or jargon of the discipline
  • often lengthy articles
  • little or no advertising
  • only necessary graphics
  • list of review board members (for the journal, not for each article)
  • author and review board credentials and affiliations are given
  • generally no bibliography, references, or citations
  • written for a general audience at an easy reading level
  • jargon and overly technical terms are avoided
  • shorter articles
  • lots of advertisements
  • lots of graphics
  • no formal review process, though may be fact-checked
  • author and editor credentials and affiliations not required
  • very few bibliographies, reference lists, or citations
  • written for a somewhat specialized audience, but at a general reading level
  • may use terminology or jargon but contains explanations
  • short to medium-length articles
  • lots of advertisements
  • lots of graphics
  • no formal review process, though may be fact-checked
  • author and editor credentials and affiliations not required

Bias in Magazines

Sometimes it is difficult to determine whether a magazine's focus is conservative, liberal or radical. One way to determine this is by using Magazines for Libraries by William and Linda Sternberg Katz (R 050.25 M189, located near the Reference Desk). The magazines listed below are a sample of various points-of-view to get you started. 

Conservative Liberal Radical/Communalistic

* Current issues of these magazines are also available for browsing at the library. Journals and magazines are arranged alphabetically by title.

Please keep in mind that online versions of magazines may not contain all of the articles in a particular issue, or allow you full access to the whole article.