Popular vs. Trade/Professional vs. Scholarly

Most journal or magazine publications fall into one of three categories: popular, trade/professional, or scholarly/academic. Peer-reviewed journals are one type of scholarly/academic journal (they are often considered the most scholarly type). Elements of articles or article citations actually give you clues that tell you if an article is popular, trade or scholarly. Some clues to look for are outlined in the table below:


Popular

Trade/Professional

Scholarly and Peer Reviewed

audience
  • general public
audience
  • professionals/experts in the field
  • general public
audience
  • professionals/experts
  • scholars and students in the field
content
  • reports events, opinions, or summarizes/simplifies scholarly findings
  • no citations
content
  • reports scholarly findings
  • written for educated audience familiar with subject
content
  • reports primary research or scholarly findings
  • usually includes literature review
  • includes citations/bibliographies
author(s)
  • staff writers or no author listed
  • not subject experts
  • paid per article
author(s)
  • professionals that work in the field
  • write to relay pertinent information to people in the field
author(s)
  • professionals in the field, scholars, or professors
  • write to relay pertinent information to people in the field or other scholars
  • not employed by the journal they're writing for
  • usually not paid for their article
editorial policy
  • stories are assigned to writers
  • stories are reviewed by one or more editors
editorial policy
  • mix of assignments and independent work
  • magazine editor
editorial policy
  • articles are submitted to editorial board or outside scholars who review and/or verify the veracity of the content/research in the articles