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Woodburn, Library Services

Periodicals terminology

Your instructor may ask that you use only scholarly, peer-reviewed journal articles for your research papers.  Thus, it is important to understand the differences among magazines, journals, and newspapers (collectively known as periodicals.)


A comprehensive term for publications that appears on a continuous and predictable schedule. Examples include newspapers (daily or weekly), magazines, and journals.


A periodical for general reading, containing articles on various subjects by different authors.  Usually published weekly, monthly, or semi-monthly.


A publication issued at state, frequent intervals containing news, opinions, advertisements, and other items of current, often local, interest.  Usually published daily, weekly, or semi-weekly.

Peer review or Refereed

Part of the publication process for scholarly publications in which a group of experts examines a document to determine whether it is worthy of publication.  Journals and other publications use a peer-review process – usually arranged so that reviews do not know who the author of the document is – to assess articles for quality and relevance.

Scholarly journal

A journal that is primarily addressed to scholars, often focusing on a particular discipline.  Scholarly journals are often refereed publications and for some purposes may be considered more authoritative than magazines. 

Articles in scholarly journals usually are substantial in length, use specialized language, contain footnotes or endnotes, and are written by academic researches rather than by journalists. 

Not all scholarly journals follow the peer-review process.

Confirmation journal is peer-reviewed

Peer review

This process applies to scholarly periodicals, meaning that the articles have been vetted by other scholars/authorities in that discipline.  The reviewers check the author’s article for accuracy, sound methodology, appropriate conclusions, etc.   Not every scholarly journal is peer-reviewed, however.

Depending on the database, there will often be an option to limit search results to peer-reviewed articles.

To help you confirm the publication is actually peer-reviewed, use UlrichsWeb.  UlrichWeb contains information on periodicals such as pricing, availability, indexing/abstracting services, and whether it is peer-reviewed (refereed).