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Comparison of peer reviewed journals and popular magazines

What is Peer Review?

Peer review is the process by which scholarly research is evaluated by experts in the field.

Articles selected for publication in a peer reviewed journal have been judged by the reviewers to meet the standards of the discipline for accuracy and validity.

Scholarly vs. Popular Periodicals

Titles published on a regular basis (daily, weekly, monthly, etc.) are periodicals.

Journals, magazines, newsletters, and newspapers are periodicals.

Comparison of Journals and Magazines


Scholarly Peer-Reviewed Journals

Popular Magazines


Advance scholarship in the discipline; disseminate research findings; facilitate conversation among specialists and students; enhance the academic status/reputation of the author

Inform and entertain; news and current developments in the profession; support for practitioners in a field.


Scholars, researchers, students

Church workers, anyone interested


Plain cover, illustrations document research, a few ads for books or other academic products

Eye-catching cover, glossy photographs for graphic appeal, many advertisements


Scholars and experts with credentials. Editors select the highest quality articles based on sound research (peer review).

Staff employees and freelance authors.  Credentials are often not supplied.


Longer, in-depth analysis; reports and critique of research; reviews of recently published books.

Shorter, general interest; practical advice and suggestions.


Authors cite sources and provide bibliographies.

Few citations, if any.


Technical and precise; terminology of the discipline.

Basic English, readily understood by target audience.


Volume and issue numbers are prominent. Page numbering may be continuous through all issues of the year.

Date of publication is prominent. Volume and issue numbering may be absent.


Educational, professional or research organizations. Commercial publishers who specialize in academic titles.

Commercial or not-for-profit.


Subsidized heavily by academic institutions that employ authors and editors. Authors need to publish for career enhancement but usually don’t get royalties. Commercial publishers often charge high rates.

Non-profits cover costs, may have income from donations.  Commercial publishers make money for investors.