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Graduate Biology

Biological Sciences and Chemistry

Journals, magazines and periodicals. What's the difference?

The term periodicals covers a broad category of items published on a recurring basis. Periodicals include:

  • Newspapers
  • Magazines
  • Academic Journals


Newspapers usually come out every day and report short stories on current events that are usually written for a general audience.


Magazines are periodicals that include short stories, news, in-depth reporting, and other types of articles directed towards a general audience. Most people can read a magazine article and understand it. In academia, we often refer to magazines as popular literature.


Journals are generally for an academic audience. The articles are written by researchers in a particular field for other researchers in that field. Usually, journals will include editorials, literature reviews, and primary research articles. Often times you may need to have a background in, or a degree to understand the primary research articles in a journal.

If you need to, go back and review some of the videos on the Scholarly vs. Popular page under the How Information is Organized tab

Use the Journal List to Find an Article

The Journal List allows you to discover the journals to which the Library has access. This is especially helpful when you have a citation and want to find the actual article.

For example, given the following citation:

Wood, P. J. (2011). Understanding and evaluating historical sources in nursing history research. Nursing Praxis in New Zealand, 27(1), 25-33.

  1. Search on the journal title (in this case,Nursing Praxis in New Zealand,).
  2. The results list will show if we have the journal along with the available date range and the database in which you can find it.
  3. If the publication date of the journal falls within the available date range, then click on the database title.
  4. Once you're in the database, follow the date, volume, and issue number to the article given in the citation.
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