Most, but not all, scholarly journals are peer-reviewed. Peer-reviewed journals are a subset of scholarly journals.
It is important to be able to distinguish between journal articles and magazine articles. Journal articles are typically referred to as "scholarly," while magazine articles are usually considered "popular". Below are criteria to consider when differentiating between journals and magazines.
|Criteria||Scholarly Journal||Popular Magazine|
|Content||In-depth, primary account of original findings written by the researcher(s); very specific information, with the goal of scholarly communication.||Secondary discussion of someone else's research; may include personal narrative or opinion; general information, purpose is to entertain or inform.|
|Author||Author's credentials are provided; usually a scholar or specialist with subject expertise.||Author is frequently a journalist paid to write articles, may or may not have subject expertise.|
|Audience||Scholars, researchers, and students.||General public; the interested non-specialist.|
|Language||Specialized terminology or jargon of the field; requires expertise in subject area.||Vocabulary in general usage; easily understandable to most readers.|
|Graphics||Graphs, charts, and tables; very few advertisements and photographs.||Graphs, charts and tables; lots of glossy advertisements and photographs.|
|Layout and Organization||Structured; includes the article abstract, goals and objectives, methodology, results (evidence), discussion, conclusion, and bibliography.||Informal; may include non-standard formatting. May not present supporting evidence or a conclusion.|
|Accountability||Articles are evaluated by peer-reviewers who are experts in the field; edited for content, format, and style. While the peer-review process is far from perfect,* it often is an indicator at least some measure of objectivity.||Articles are evaluated by editorial staff, not experts in the field; edited for format and style.|
|References||Required. Quotes and facts are verifiable.||Rare. Little, if any, information about source materials is given.|
|Paging||Page numbers are consecutive throughout the volume.||Each issue begins with page 1.|
|Other Examples||Annals of Mathematics, Journal of Abnormal Psychology, History of Education Quarterly, Almost anything with Journal in the title.||Sports Illustrated, National Geographic, Time, Newsweek, Ladies Home Journal, Cooking Light, Discover|
Acknowledgement: This is adapted from one created by North Carolina State University Libraries. They, in turn, modified a document originally created by librarians at the University of Michigan Shapiro Undergraduate Library.
*This 2019 Washington Post opinion piece provides examples of the imperfections of the peer-review process: Why we shouldn’t take peer review as the ‘gold standard.’