A periodical is a publication that is produced regularly at fixed intervals (such as daily, weekly, biweekly, monthly, quarterly, or annually). Most periodicals have a numbering system that includes volume and issue numbers. Sometimes periodicals are also called "serials." Types of periodicals include:
Each type of periodical has its own characteristics and purpose. When citing articles for academic research, it is very important to understand these differences, since not all periodical articles are suitable for research documentation. The following descriptions will help you understand various kinds of periodicals.
Journals are usually the best kind of periodical to use when doing academic research. They sometimes also are called "scholarly journals," "peer-reviewed journals," or "academic journals." Here are some things that will help you recognize a journal:
Many (though not all) journals contain "peer-reviewed" (or "refereed") articles. A peer-reviewed article has been evaluated by experts in the field who judge whether or not it should be published in the journal. Because they have been evaluated by other experts, peer-reviewed articles are generally of very high quality. The library discovery service allows you to refine your search by selecting "Peer Reviewed" or "Academic Journals" in the gray "Refine By" box to the left of your search results. The "advanced search" page for any EBSCOhost database allows you to check a box that will limit your search to peer-reviewed articles only. Articles in the JSTOR or SpringerLink databases will generally be peer-reviewed.
Magazines, sometimes referred to with terms like "news," "general interest," or "popular," are generally of less value as sources for academic writing. The following characteristics usually define magazines:
Newspapers are similar to magazines in that they are written for a general audience for informative, persuasive, or entertainment purposes. They are not typically appropriate as sources in academic writing, though there are exceptions to that rule. Some general characteristics of newspapers include:
Trade, or "professional," publications are generally written for a specific industry or profession. Depending on the context, they may be appropriate sources for academic writing, though should be used with caution in that context. You can recognize a trade publication by the following characteristics: