How do I evaluate different types of Periodicals?


What is a periodical? A publication that is issued regularly and published at weekly, monthly, quarterly, or other intervals.  Periodicals range from technical and scholarly journals to illustrated magazines for mass circulation. (Definition from The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2001)


  • Newspapers are good for finding current information or reports on events after they initially occurred.

  • The full-text of speeches may also be available in a newspaper.

  • Most newspapers are published daily.

Where to find Newspapers Online:


  • Magazines are good sources for overviews of current events and issues.

  • They will usually provide a broader description of an issue or event than a newspaper. 

  • Most magazines are published weekly or monthly.

Full-text magazine articles are available online via 

These databases include articles from: Business Week, National Review, Esquire, Money, Fortune, U.S. News and World Report, Forbes, The Nation, Time, Newsweek, and more.


  • Journals are usually published quarterly, biannually (twice a year), or annually (once a year). 

  • These publications contain articles written by experts in a given field.

  • Journals include articles based on research and are often accompanied by an abstract and a bibliography.  

  • There are many different types of journals.     

Some journals focus on a particular field in general, such as the Nursing Science Quarterly and The Quarterly Journal of Economics:


while others may feature a very specialized topic of a subject or profession, such as Journal of Community Health Nursing and Journal of Labor Economics


This is an example of a journal article.  Note the abstract which provides an overview of the content of the article.

Some places to find Journal Articles Online

  •  JSTOR  provides access to the full-text of back issues of scholarly journals.

  • Sage Journals - fulltext collection of 450 discipline-specific popular peer-reviewed journals in Communication Studies, Criminology, Education,  Health Sciences, Management & Organization Studies, Materials Science, Political Science, Psychology, Sociology, and Urban Studies & Planning.
  • Health Source Nursing Academic database contains over 500 full-text journals, drawn from the CINAHL (Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature) database.
  • MLA Bibliography is a database that indexes literary journals from 1963-present. It is an excellent resource for locating citations for literary criticism on particular authors and their works from scholarly literary journals. 

  • Research Library contains various types of periodical articles, included peer-reviewed scholarly journals. Some of these journals contain full-text articles and others do not. Check in the box to limit your search to "Scholarly journals, including peer-reviewed." 

    Academic Search Premier contains various types of periodical articles, included peer-reviewed scholarly journals. Some of these journals contain full-text articles and others do not. Click in the box to limit your search to "Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) Journals."

The databases listed above are not the only ones that contain journal articles, but they are good places to start when searching for these types of articles online.

Refereed / Peer-reviewed Periodicals

What is a refereed or peer-reviewed periodical? These terms are used to indicate that articles submitted to a periodical are examined both by the editor and one or more specialists in the individual field before approval is given to publish.  The purpose of the readers (often called an editorial board) is to ensure a better chance that the final product will be a contribution to knowledge. (Definition from Magazines for libraries, New York : Bowker, 1997.)

  • Many of online databases available via the library homepage will allow you to limit your search results to include only articles from refereed/peer-reviewed periodicals. 

  • When you limit your search to refereed/peer-reviewed periodicals you will find that most of your results will be articles from scholarly journals, since these are peer-reviewed publications. 

  • Also check out the some of the differences between Scholarly Journals and Popular Magazines

  • Click here to learn how to cite online resources in the MLA, APA, Chicago, or Turabian styles.