Because you never see the physical publications when you search online, it can be hard to tell what's what. Which article is from a magazine? Which one is from a scholarly journal? When does it matter?
Periodicals are any material that is published periodically, such as daily, monthly or quarterly. A book, for example, is not a periodical. The great majority of periodicals available from the MCC Library today are electronic and included in databases. Some periodicals are considered scholarly, others popular. Scholarly is not the same as "credible." Both scholarly and popular periodicals can be credible. Depending on your information need, a scholarly resource or a popular resource might be a better fit.
The characteristics of different types of periodical publications are described below. These differences hold true whether the publication appears online or in print.
Academic or Peer-reviewed Journal - Examples: Journal of Asian Studies, Psychophysiology, Social Research
Note: Some but not all academic journals are peer-reviewed. Peer review insures that the research reported is accurate and of high quality. Sometimes the term "refereed" is used instead of peer review.
General Interest Magazines - Examples:Time, Popular Science, Psychology Today
Popular Magazine - Examples: People, Men's Health
Trade or Professional Journal - Examples: Advertising Age, American Journal of Nursing, People Management
Peer review means that in addition to a journal's editorial staff reading a submitted article, a panel of the author's peers who work or do research in the same field also read the article to verify that the work meets the standards of that field.
To limit your search results to peer reviewed articles, look for a box to check on the results page. It might be in different locations for different databases:
An example in the search results page: An example on the search box page:
Sometimes when you look at an article there is an indication of whether the journal is peer reviewed, but sometimes you might have to Google the journal -- you can look for "About" or "Submission Guidelines" on an journal's website to see if they use peer review when accepting articles. If you're still not sure, ask a librarian or your professor. We are glad to help!
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