There are two major types of periodical: scholarly or popular.
Popular periodicals are the kind you would buy to read for fun. They may have some value for research, depending on the topic, but they are usually not the preferred type of resource for research papers.
Scholarly periodicals are written for and by people who work in academics: professors, researchers, undergraduate or graduate students. This type of article is best suited for your research because it is reliable and authoritative.
|Scholarly journals||Popular magazines|
|Authors||Articles are written by authorities in the field||Articles are usually written by professional writers or journalists|
|Sources||Authors cite their sources in endnotes, footnotes, or bibliographies||There are rarely bibliographies|
|Audience||Aimed at scholarly readers (researchers, professors, or students)||Aimed at general population|
|Publisher||Often published by academic or association presses||Published by commercial (for profit) presses|
|Advertisements||Contains few to no advertisements||Contain numerous advertisements|
|Peer-review?||Most articles are reviewed by an author’s peers before publication to ensure high quality||Rare|
|Article scope||Journals usually have a narrow subject focus, and articles often include original research, reviews, or essays||Used to inform, update, or introduce a topic to a general reader|
|Graphics||Illustrations often consist of charts or graphs||Numerous colorful illustrations and/or photographs are usually present|
|Language||Articles use jargon of the discipline||Language is geared to general population; no special knowledge is required|
|Examples||American Journal of Botany, The Academy of Management Journal, Social Research||Runner's World, Ebony, Time|
Some of the library's online databases, such as Academic Search Complete and others have a feature that allows you to click in a checkmark box to find articles from peer-reviewed journals. This should weed out articles from magazines, newspapers, and non-peer-reviewed journals.
When you use a database, look for this option on the search screen (usually it's somewhere below the search box), or look for it in the filtering options on the side of the page after you've done your search. For example:
NOTE: Not everything published in a peer reviewed journal is a peer reviewed article. Peer reviewed journals typically include letters to the editor, commentaries or book reviews. These are not considered peer reviewed articles. Look carefully at the articles in your list of results to make sure they have the criteria for a scholarly article.