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NUR 18200 (RN-BSN Online): Conceptual & Theoretical Thinking in Nursing: Journal Types

This version of the NUR 18200 library guide is for students in the online RN-BSN program.

What is a Scholarly Journal?

A scholarly journal is a periodical that contains articles written by experts in a particular field of study. The articles are intended to be read by other experts or students of the field and are usually much more sophisticated and advanced than the articles found in popular magazines. Some journals are peer-reviewed, meaning that a board of referees who are experts in the field review the submitted article for content and quality. This process should ensure that the article is of the highest quality to researchers.

Many instructors assign research papers or projects that require students to use articles in scholarly journals. How can you tell if it is a scholarly journal?  Here are some key elements of various journal types:

Different Journal Types

Popular Journal/ Magazine

Authors: Reporters, Magazine staff, or Freelance Writers
Audience: General Public
Purpose: Inform, entertain, and cover special interests
Content: Personalities, news and general interest articles
Language: Non-technical
Articles: Brief, providing broad overviews
Review Process: No Formal peer review process, reviewed by editors on staff
Bibliography: Articles rarely include references


Authors: Practitioners, Educators, or Specialists within the profession or trade
Audience: Professional in the fields, researchers, and students
Purpose: Provide information and news to practitioners in a profession
Content: New trends, techniques and organizational news
Language: Technical terminology of the profession
Articles: Length varies
Review Process: Includes some peer-review periodicals, most are reviewed by editors (often professionals in the field)
Bibliography: Occasionally cite sources

Scholarly Journal

Authors: Scholars, Researchers, or Experts in the Field
Audience: Researchers, Scholars, Students
Purpose: Inform, report and share original research and experimentation with the rest of the scholarly world
Content: Research results, methodology and theory
Language: Terminology and language of the discipline, reader is assumed to have similar background
Articles: Lengthy, providing in-depth analysis
Review Process: Reviewed by a board of experts in the field or by the author’s peers (peer reviewed)
Bibliography: References/ Bibliographies are always included. Bibliographies or endnotes are  in formal style.


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