BIO150Y Optimal Information Foraging  

Types of Journal Articles

Not all journal articles are created equal! Some carry more scholarly weight than others.

  Scholarly journals Popular magazines
Audience Researchers
Readers with subject expertise
General public
Articles Long & in-depth
Primary research
Summarise research & current issues
Scientific format? Yes. Articles have sections: abstract, introduction, methods and materials, results, discussion, literature cited No
Table or graphs? Yes, to summarise data Usually not
Photographs and advertisements? Few Many
Peer reviewed? Yes No - edited for style and clarity only
Examples Nature, Science, Journal of Cell Biology National Geographic, Discover, Scientific American

Scholarly Journals

Journal of Cell Biology

If you need to find scholarly information or primary research for your paper, you should choose a journal rather than a popular magazine. Journals are often peer-reviewed, meaning that an editorial board of scholars reviews all articles submitted to a journal and accepts only those that are scientifically sound, reproducible, and contribute to that field of research.

Papers submitted to journals are either accepted without revisions, accepted provided the author addresses the reviewers' comments and re-submits the paper, or rejected. If rejected, the author may need to conduct additional research and re-write the paper incorporating the results of the latest research, or the author may choose to submit to another journal.

Read more about scolarly journal articles


Scientific American Magazines such as Scientific American are also good sources of information for your paper. They are geared towards readers who, although not experts, are knowledgeable about the issues presented. Articles in these sources can be in-depth and provide a good overview of a topic.

Can you identify a scholarly journal?

Are popular journals useful as reference sources?

Let's find out more about the scholarly research process... Next

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