Identifying Periodical Literature: Popular, Professional And Scholarly

Below are some characteristics for identifying the three types of periodical literature: popular, professional, and scholarly. Ask a librarian for help if you are unsure how to categorize a particular title. Please note that not all of the criteria will apply to periodicals in each category.

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Scholarly literature may also be referred to as refereed or peer-reviewed literature. Some of the MdUSA databases that let you limit to peer-reviewed articles include ABI/Inform and Business and Company Resource Center.






Typically commercial

Professional association

Typically a university or professional association



Members of association; other professionals in the field

Professors, researchers, and students


Not always identified; staff writers

Experts with significant knowledge in the subject area

Clearly defined; experts, scholars, and researchers

Writing Style

Informal; language is easy to understand

Semiformal; may use technical or specialized language

Formal; scholarly language

Article Type

Brief, nontechnical, and photographs and graphics are often provided

Varies; may be brief news of developments in the field or recent research

Research articles with tables, graphs, charts, or equations; peer-reviewed



Typically provides suggested resources for more information

Footnotes or endnotes; bibliography


Newsweek, PC World, Washington Post

The American Statistician (TAS), Accounting Education News

Sloan Management Review, Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, Modern Fiction Studies

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