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Biological Sciences: Journals vs. Magazines

A Campus Guide for students of the biological sciences.

Scholarly Journals

AUDIENCE

Professors, researchers, scholars, students

APPEARANCE

Plain cover, and black and white pictures

ADVERTISEMENTS

No advertisements

AUTHOR Experts in the field, professionals
CONTENT & FOCUS

 Original thoughts, ideas,  research, new methodologies

DOCUMENTATION Bibliographies, footnotes
ILLUSTRATIONS

Few illustrations, relevant research oriented charts, graphs, and tables

LANGUAGE Specialized formal language
LENGTH

Usually quite lengthy, giving         in-depth research, theories, analysis

PUBLICATION FREQUENCY

Usually published monthly, or quarterly

EXAMPLES

Journal of Experimental Biology; American Scientist

Primary Vs. Secondary Articles

A primary source is a document or record which reports a study, experiment, event or other phenomenon firsthand.   

Primary sources are usually written by the person(s) who did the research, conducted the study, ran the experiment, or witnessed the event. Primary sources are detailed first reports of the results of this original research.

Look for the following elements when deciding whether a journal article is a primary source reporting the results of original research:

  • Problem and Purpose
  • Significance
  • literature review or synthesis of the theory and other research relevant to the topic being studied
  • a description of the population or sample in the study;human subjects
  • an outline of methodology;
  • Interventions
  • Sample
  • Instruments
  • data collection
  • data analysis
  •  a report of results and a discussion of their significance; implications
  • conclusions

Clues for Determining Whether Article is Primary and Scholarly:

  • Article is more than 8 pages long
  • Article has headings such as: "literature review," "population," "methodology," "results," etc.
  • Contains keywords such as "study" or "research"

Popular Magazines

AUDIENCE General readers
APPEARANCE Colorful cover, glossy paper, and color pictures
ADVERTISEMENTS Several colorful advertisements
AUTHOR

Journalists, staff writers, usually not experts in the field

CONTENT & FOCUS

Current events, general interest

DOCUMENTATION

Very little, if any documentation

ILLUSTRATIONS Many colorful eye-catching illustrations
LANGUAGE

Easy to read

LENGTH

Usually short to medium, giving overview of topics

PUBLICATION FREQUENCY

Usually published weekly, or monthly

EXAMPLES    Psychology Today; Newsweek; National Geographic; Time