Skip to Main Content

JOUR 48400: Mass Media Research

Comparison of two Communication Journals

Scholarly Journals

Scholarly journals

For research assignments, a professor may require that you use "scholarly" or "peer reviewed" journals. These are journals whose purpose is to disseminate new findings, results of studies, theories, etc.

Scholarly journals are written and edited by professors and researchers. Before publication, articles are reviewed by other researchers in the field of interest, hence the name "peer reviewed."

Many Library databases allow you to limit your search results to peer reviewed articles..

Appearance and Format

  • Plain covers that vary little from issue to issue
  • "Journal," "Transactions," "Proceedings," or "Quarterly" commonly appear in title
  • Articles include sections such as: abstract, keywords, literature review, methodology, results, conclusion
  • Articles may have charts or graphs
  • Advertising limited to books and meetings
  • Pages numbered consecutively throughout a volume (rather than starting again at "1" with each issue)

Frequency of Publication

  • Monthly or quarterly

Authors & Editors

  • Authors are scholars writing about their own research. They are usually affiliated with a college, university, or research institue and that affiliation will be stated

  • Articles are reviewed by a board of experts ("peer reviewed")

Readership & Language

  • Aimed at practitioners in a particular field of study
  • Language is often intensely academic, using the jargon of the field


  • Sources are always cited using footnotes or parenthetical references
  • "Works cited" section at end of articles

Trade or Professional Journals

Trade journals are written for "insiders" in a particular industry. Some may look similar to popular journals, but they aren't intended for a general readership.

Appearance and Format

  • May have a bright, glossy cover that varies from issue to issue
  • Title usually includes the name of the industry or profession
  • Articles short to medium length—rarely longer than a few pages
  • Article types include industry news, opinion, practical advice, product reviews
  • Often have illustrations, charts, or graphs
  • Advertising for products aimed at industry professionals

Frequency of Publication

  • Usually monthly; sometimes weekly

Authors & Editors

  • Authors are usually specialists in the field, sometimes journalists

Readership & Language

  • Aimed at practitioners in a particular industry or profession
  • Articles use jargon of the industry


  • May or may not include citations

Popular Journals

Popular journalsPopular publications include news, feature stories, opinion/editorial pieces, etc. They are meant to inform and entertain.

Appearance & Format

  • Usually a bright, glossy, eye-catching cover

  • Articles short to medium length

  • Lots of advertising for general consumer products

  • Colorful photos and illustrations

Frequency of Publication

  • Weekly or monthly

Authors & Editors

  • Authors are magazine staff members or free-lance writers

  • No editorial peer-review process

Readership & Language

  • Written to appeal to a broad segment of the population.

  • Articles written for a general audience; fairly jargon-free


  • Citations and bibliographies are rare

Cathy Michael

Profile Photo
Cathy Michael
Ithaca College Library 953 Danby Rd
Ithaca, NY 14850‑7002