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Evaluating Information

Evaluating Journals, Magazines & Newspapers

Evaluating Periodicals

Healey Library subscribes to roughly 500 periodicals in paper and over 25,000 in electronic formats. Periodicals include journals, magazines and newspapers that are published at regular intervals (daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc.).

Identify the type of information you require for your research, then find the appropriate publication in which to find this material. All types of publications may be useful for different purposes, but scholarly journals are often required for college-level research.

Note: Be aware that these journal categories are somewhat arbitrary. Use your own critical skills to distinguish between editorials, letters, reviews, and research material, regardless of the category of journal in which the work appears. Ultimately, you must determine whether the material is relevant to your research.

News And Popular Magazines

  • Written by journalists, often unidentified, who may consult with experts.

  • Coverage of current events, current-interest issues and activities, often broad in treatment, easy to read and aimed at a general audience.

  • Usually includes significant amount of advertising, illustrations, and may be attractive and entertaining.

  • Rarely includes references to other works.

  • Can be a source of useful background information, particularly when there is little other information on a topic available elsewhere.

Examples: The Boston Globe, Ebony, Esquire, Jet, The New York Times, Newsweek, People, Psychology Today, Sports Illustrated, Time, U.S. News & World Report, Vogue.

Note: To determine the political stance of a newspaper or an opinion magazine, stop at the 4th floor Reference Desk where a librarian will direct you to the most recent edition of Magazines for Libraries (NY: Bowker).

Scholarly Journals

  • Have authors that are identified experts and professionals.

  • Often contain reports of original research.

  • May be “peer-reviewed” or “refereed,” meaning the articles have gone through a critical selection process by others in the field. Look in the inside front cover for a list of reviewers (editorial board) or the journal's web site.

  • Have introductory abstract, list of references or a bibliography.

  • Considered primary source material if presenting results from the author’s research.

  • Are published or sponsored by a professional society or association.

Examples: Clinical Social Work Journal, Critical Inquiry, Eighteenth‑Century Studies, International Journal of Aging & Human Development, Journal of Management Studies, Lancet, The Review of Contemporary Fiction, Studies in Twentieth Century Literature.

Opinion Magazines


  • Fall between popular and scholarly periodicals.

  • Intended for the educated reader, but not necessarily the scholar.

  • Opinions or viewpoints on cultural or political affairs, usually with particular bias.

  • Good for comparing points of view. Look at a review of the same book in both The Nation and The National Review to see wide differences of opinion.

Examples: The American Spectator, Christianity Today, Dissent, The Nation, National Review, New American, New Republic, New Statesman and Society, The Progressive, Spectator.

Trade Magazines

  • Written by engineers, technicians, and trades-people for peers working in the same industry or profession.

  • Scope is usually narrow, with the intent to address policy issues or to share information related to the field.

  • Frequently graphics and related product advertising included. Useful for profession or industry news, related government regulations, market data, product development information, employment opportunities, and calendars of related events.

Examples: Appliance, Beverage World, Drug and Cosmetics Industry, Forest Industries, Power Engineering, Purchasing, Supermarket Business.

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