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English 201

Scholarly Continuum of Magazines/Journals


This table describes the differences between scholarly journals, technical/trade journals, substantial news/general interest magazines, and popular magazines based on the set of criteria in the left column.

These criteria may be used to determine where in the continuum from scholarly to popular a particular periodical (magazine or journal) falls.






 Audience & Purpose



Audience: Specific professional audience of other scholars in the discipline or profession.

Purpose:  Reports or makes available original research or experimentation to the rest of the scholarly world.



Audience: Specific professional audience of people in a particular discipline or profession. 

Purpose:  Helps someone do their job better by reporting on new techniques (but does not report original research). Includes job listings and other news of interest to people in that profession. 



Audience:  Educated audience with interest in the topics (not aimed at a professional group)

Purpose: Provides substantial information to an interested audience.


Audience: General audience.

Purpose: Primarily entertains or persuades.  Hidden agenda may include selling products or services.


Generally have grave, serious formats


Are attractive in appearance

Attractive in appearance

Generally slick & glossy with an attractive format


Contain graphs and charts to illustrate the articles but usually quite plain in appearance with minimal use of color.


Include photographs, illustrations and graphics to enhance the publication

Include photographs, illustrations and graphics to enhance the publication

Contain photographs, illustrations and drawings to enhance their image



Cite sources with footnotes and/or bibliography


Articles may not be footnoted or may have few footnotes

Occasionally cite sources, but this is exception to rule

Rarely cite sources; Original sources can be obscure


Written by scholars or researchers in the specialty


Written by people working in a particular profession


Written either by the magazine’s staff, a scholar, or free-lance writers.

Written by the publication’s staff or free-lance writers for a broad based audience



Use terminology, jargon and the language of the discipline covered.  The reader is assumed to have a similar scholarly background.


Use terminology and jargon of the field but are usually less formal in tone.

Use language appropriate for an educated readership.  They do not necessarily emphasize a specialty but do assume a certain level of intelligence.

Use simple language in order to meet a minimum education level.  Articles are kept short, with little depth.


Generally published by a professional organization or society


Published by professional association

Published by commercial enterprises for profit

Published for profit



No advertising or very minimal, selective advertising

Advertisements are aimed at people in that profession -- including products and services of interest to them.


Carry general advertising

Carry extensive general advertising



New England Journal of Medicine

Journal of the Am. Chemical Society

Harvard Business Review

American Biology  Teacher

Chemical  & Engineering News

Scientific American

Psychology Today



Reader's Digest


ENGL201 Scholarly table.   Karl E. Mundt Library/ Dakota State University.                    Based on document developed by Purdue University. Undergraduate Library

Popular vs Scholarly

Karl E. Mundt Library, Dakota State University, Madison, South Dakota 57042