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Arkansas State University

Scholarly Journals: Introduction

How to tell scholarly Journals from other periodicals.


Webster's Third International Dictionary defines scholarly as:

  • concerned with academic study, especially research,

  • exhibiting the methods and attitudes of a scholar, and

  • having the manner and appearance of a scholar.

Substantive is defined as having a solid base, being substantial.

Popular means fit for, or reflecting the taste and intelligence of, the people at large.


Journals and magazines are important sources for up-to-date information in all subjects and disciplines. With a large and diverse periodicals collection available, it can be hard to distinguish between the various levels of scholarship found in the collection. In this guide we have divided the criteria for periodical literature into three categories:

Scholarly Journals

News/General Interest Publications

Popular Magazines

Keep these definitions in mind and know that none of the lines drawn between types of journals can ever be totally clear cut.  To help with the confusion, visit the Side-by-Side Comparisons page for examples.

Scholarly vs. Popular Periodicals

A short tutorial from Vanderbilt University.