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Scholarly vs. Non-Scholarly Periodicals: Introduction


Journals, magazines, and newspapers - in print, online, and from library databases - are important sources for up-to-date information in all disciplines.

It is often difficult to distinguish between the various levels of scholarship found in the library databases or on the Internet.

In this guide we have divided the criteria for evaluating periodical literature into two categories:

  • Scholarly
  • Non-scholarly, which sometimes fall into their own sub-categories:
    • News or general interest periodicals
    • Popular magazines
    • Trade publications

Here's a quick cheat sheet from St. Mary's College in Indiana. Here's another from the U of Illinois.  For a more in-depth look, use the tabs above.


But I don't even know where to start my research! 

We've got you covered! Check some of our databases that provide background information. These will not be what you use as your major sources, and they are not peer-reviewed, but they CAN give you a solid overview of your topic, and provide ideas for search words - even help you expand or narrow your focus.  

Library Director

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Sarah Sanfilippo

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SVC Library
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Bennington, VT 05201

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This guide was created using information adapted from Cornell University Library's Distinguishing Scholarly from Non-Scholarly Periodicals: A Checklist of Criteria with permission of Research & Learning Services, Olin Library, Cornell University Library, Ithaca, NY, USA. If you wish to use any or all of the content of this Guide, see

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