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Physical Therapy: Journal Articles

What is the difference between Scholarly, Popular, & Trade Publications?

Below is a chart that will help you differentiate between Scholarly Journals, Trade Journals, and Popular Magazines.

Evaluation Criteria

Scholarly Journal

Technical/Trade Journal

Popular Magazine


Articles presenting original research studies.  Book reviews on relevant material to scholars in the field.

Practical information for professionals within a field:  current trends, news, and products.

Current events, hot topics, commentary on social issues & popular culture, book reviews, etc.


Technical language, longer article length, discipline specific.

Can use jargon & technical language, due to professional audience.

Simple language, shorter articles.


Experts in the field

Professionals/practitioners within the field, journalists with expertise in the subject area.



Professors, researchers, professionals, experts, students.

Professionals/practitioners within a particular field.

General populace


Extensive documentation, footnotes, bibliographies

Occasionally cite sources within the text.

Rarely cite sources.


To share research results and to expand knowledge base within the field.

To share news & current trends with professionals in the field.

Entertainment, general news reporting, summarizes general research.

What do they look like?

Include charts, formulas, graphs, few advertisements.  Overall serious appearance.

Include photos, graphs, charts, tables, illustrations, & advertising targeted to the field.

Colorful, glossy, many graphics, pictures, & advertisements.

Review process

Articles are evaluated by other experts within the field before publication to guarantee trustworthiness and validity.

Articles are reviewed by the publication’s editorial staff.  Some go through a peer review process:  please see specific publication’s website for details.

Articles are reviewed by magazine’s editorial staff for grammar & spelling.


Universities, scholarly presses, academic/research organizations.

Commercial publishers

Commercial publishers


Some table content adapted from Spring Hill College's What is a Scholarly Journal? 

Scholarly vs. Popular Resources

What is Peer Review?

Dr. Frank A. Franco Library Learning Center

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Alvernia Library
Dr. Frank A. Franco Library Learning Center
Alvernia University
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Reading, PA 19607

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