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Types of Publications

Popular, Scholarly and Trade Publications

You may come across a variety of publications when you are searching for journal articles. Popular magazines, scholarly journals, and trade publications are examples of different types of publications that you may encounter, and you need to understand the differences.

Popular magazines are written for a general audience, usually by journalists, who are most likely not subject experts. Popular magazines often contain current events and general interest articles, use non-technical language, have eye-catching cover pictures and illustrations in color with glossy paper and have few or no bibliographic references.  People Magazine and National Geographic are examples of popular magazines.

Scholarly journal articles are written by and for experts in the field, and often go through an extensive peer review process where they are evaluated by other experts in the field. They usually report original research and contribute to the body of knowledge in a field, contain technical or field-specific language, and list the author’s credentials as well as complete bibliographic references. Applied Nursing Research and Journal of the American Medical Association are examples of scholarly journals.

Trade publications are directed toward members of a specific business, industry, or organization and discuss industry news, products or techniques, and are published by trade associations. They usually have few bibliographic references.  Minority Nurse is an example of a trade publication.

A note about periodicals and serials: Publications issued on a regular basis are called periodicals. Weekly magazines, scholarly journals, and newspapers are all examples of periodicals. Serials are any periodicals, books, yearbooks, or indexes that are issued in a series. All periodicals are serials, but not all serials are periodicals.