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Resource Guide: Journals v. Magazines: Home

Information to help you understand the differences between magazines and journals

Journals v. Magazines

Journals and magazines are two kinds of periodicals (publications issued periodically).  Both can contain well-researched and up-to-date material that is not yet available in other formats, but journals and magazines differ from each other in important ways.

Journals  Magazines
Audience: Audience:
  • most often scholarly readers (i.e., professors, researchers, and students)
  • people who work in a particular field
  • others with assumed knowledge of the subject
  • most often a general audience
  • occasionally people in a particular trade
Article Authors: Article Authors:
  • experts in their field
  • sign the articles they write and give their credentials
  • not usually paid for articles; writing is a contribution to scholarship
  • most often generalists or non-specialists
  • sometimes do not sign articles
  • usually paid by publishers for articles
Purpose: Purpose:  
  • to present original research, experiments, and information, usually quite focused
  •  to report, entertain, promote a viewpoint, and/or advertise
Writing Style:
Writing Style:
  • often written in language particular to the field of study, assuming readers have some background in the field
  • follows a standardized citation style format like APA, MLA, or Turabian
  • written for anyone to understand
  • often does not cite sources or cites using a non-standardized citation style
Features: Features:
  • often peer-review articles before selecting for publication
  • include bibliographies or lists of references
  • often include formal research methodology, with methods, data, and conclusion sections
  • often provide illustrations that support the text, such as maps, diagrams, and tables
  • contain few advertisements
  • usually include no bibliographies nor lists of references
  • often printed on glossy paper and profusely illustrated for marketing appeal
  • may be laden with advertisements
Titles: Titles:
  • sometimes include the word “journal,” such as Journal of Psychology
  • sometimes include the word “magazine,” such as PC Magazine

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