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This guide will help you understand what periodicals are, what different
kinds of periodicals you will encounter, and how to apply this knowledge to improve your research
skills. For more assistance, please Ask a Rosen Librarian.
A printable version of this guide is also available: Scholarly PDF (60 KB).
The most basic definition of a periodical is a publication that comes out periodically--- that is, daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, or at some other interval. In addition, periodicals usually contain a variety of short works (e.g., articles, reviews, columns, stories, poems, etc.) written by more than one contributor. Examples of periodicals include magazines, newsletters, and journals. Periodical articles are often very current and focused. For the purpose of college-level research, periodicals are usually divided into three categories:
Definition: Popular periodicals usually contain
short articles on a variety of topics written by various authors in an informal style. Articles
are sometimes unsigned and usually do not include a bibliography. Popular publications usually
contain illustrations or advertisements, are usually printed on glossy paper, and are usually
sold at newsstands or in bookstores.
Use: Popular periodicals are useful for their coverage of current events and popular opinion. Students should use them sparingly and should generally supplement research in them with material from trade or scholarly journals, books, or other sources of information. Some professors may forbid students to use popular periodicals or may limit the number of sources that may come from them.
Definition: Also known as professional,
industry-specific, or special interest periodicals, trade periodicals are "devoted
to disseminating news and information of interest to a specific category of business or industry,
often published by a trade association" (Rietz). In terms of content and quality, articles
in trade periodicals usually fall somewhere between popular and scholarly ---short to medium-length,
may or may not be signed, usually contain some advertisements or illustrations, and may or may
not contain a bibliography.
Use: Trade journals are useful for their "insider" coverage of industry trends, practices, and opinions. Students may generally use trade journals but should often supplement research in them with material from scholarly articles, books, or other sources of information. Some professors may forbid students to use trade publications or may limit the number of sources that may come from them.
Definition: Also known as peer-reviewed
or refereed periodicals, scholarly periodicals publish original research and commentary
on current developments within a specific discipline. Articles are signed, are often lengthy,
include minimal illustrations and advertisements, and almost always include a bibliography.
Scholarly journals are usually peer-reviewed, meaning that articles "must be
subjected to a process of critical evaluation by one or more experts on the subject, known as
Use: Scholarly articles are useful for their original and rigorous approaches to problems by experts in a particular field. Students can almost always use scholarly articles in their research, although they may need to supplement such research with books or other sources of information.
There is no master list of scholarly journals, nor does every journal necessarily
fit neatly into one of the categories. Fortunately, however, many databases provide an
effective way to ensure that your results will be from mostly scholarly journals --- before
submitting your search, simply check the appropriate option in the advanced search screen, which
may be labeled Peer Reviewed, Scholarly, or Refereed:
Above: An example from the Hospitality
& Tourism Complete database
Above: An example from the ABI Inform database
For more information about using databases to find articles, see the Finding Articles Rosen Research Guide.
The following chart may assist you in determining whether a periodical
can be considered scholarly, trade, or popular. If you are still unsure,
Ask a Rosen Librarian for help.
|Tone & Language||
* Sources used in compiling the information in this research guide include:
Questions? Ask a Rosen Librarian!
A printable version of this guide is also available: Scholarly PDF (60 KB)
Rosen Research Guides | Hospitality Research: Scholarly, Trade, or Popular?
Last updated February 03, 2012 1:12:28 PM