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Masters of Business Administration Resources

Why Journals?


Whereas books provide a broad overview of a topic, scholarly journal articles cover a very narrow aspect of the same topic. For example, if you searched on the nature of higher education in the United States, you might find:

a book titled:


a journal article titled: 

The book discusses the natural history of the planet spanning 4.5 billion years but the journal article is discussing only Manganese deposits over the history of their existence. The book is broad, the article is very narrow, in scope.

Keeping Up-to-Date

Research is constantly updated, so researchers keep up-to-date on the most recent research in their field by reading journals specific to their interests. For instance, in the sciences, research changes very rapidly; new discoveries are made and theories are disproved all the time. Research in the sciences can often be considered "old" after just a couple of years.

Writing a book can take several years, whereas a journal might be published every month or even every week. Books can't keep up with the fast pace of change like a journal.

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

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