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Sociology Research Guide: Types of Publications

Subject guide for Sociology

Different Types of Publications

Simply stated, all periodicals are publications that are published periodically. Periodicals are not all the same. Periodicals are presented in different mediums, they utilize different publication processes, and they appeal to a variety of readerships. Below you will find three types of periodicals. You will also find some distinctions between what the academic community considers popular and scholarly literature. 

Scholarly Publications

Scholarly publications are written by scholars, for other scholars. You can find scholarly articles in library databases.

  • Communicate scholarly research regarding a specific field of study
  • Academic language/terminology
  • Are often published after being peer-reviewed by other experts in the field
  • Include bibliographies/reference lists
  • Can contain research articles of an empirical nature
  • Very few advertisements
  • Few or no pictures


  • Child Development
  • Journal of Adolescent Research
  • Early Childhood Research Quarterly
  • Sex Roles
  • Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology
  • Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

journal of Adlescent ResearchChild Development journal cover

Popular Publications

Popular Publications are those like magazines and newspapers

  • Written for the general public
  • Simple language for a large audience
  • Good for current news, opinions and statistics
  • Articles may contain sources for authenticity, but newspaper articles do not contain footnotes or reference lists.
  • Articles are usually short
  • Lots of advertisements
  • Extensive pictures


  • New York Times
  • Wall Street Journal
  • Buzzfeed
  • Time
  • Newsweek

New York Times homepage February 21 2019cover of Time magazine February 2019

Trade Publications

Trade publications are geared toward individuals working in a specific profession or trade.

  • Information may be technical or practical in nature
  • Often describes recent research and current trends in the discipline but may not include citations or a reference list
  • Often includes quotes from interviews with professionals and researchers in the field
  • May contain advertising relevant to the targeted profession


  • California Educator
  • TEACH magazine
  • Counselor
  • Social Work Today
  • Monitor on Psychology

Cover of California Educator February 2019Cover of Social Work Today magazine