This page provides a brief overview of different types of articles. For more complete information on criteria that can be used to evaluate journals, news sources and magazines consult the library guide on Distinguishing Scholarly from Non-Scholarly Periodicals created by Michael Engle, a research librarian at Olin Library on Cornell's campus.

Types of Articles

Scholarly journals are also called academic, peer-reviewed, or refereed journals. Strictly speaking, peer-reviewed (also called refereed) journals refer only to those scholarly journals that submit articles to several other scholars, experts, or academics (peers) in the field for review and comment. These reviewers must agree that the article represents properly conducted original research or writing before it can be published.

To check if a journal is peer-reviewed/refereed, search the journal by title in Ulrich's Periodical Directory--look for the referee jersey icon. More on peer-reviewed journals from the University of Texas.

Trade journals are publications focused on a narrow subject, industry or profession. Trade publications can give you the perspective of a specific group of stakeholders. Articles tend to be brief and trade journals include color photographs and ads. Although some trade publications have the word "journal" in the title, they are not considered scholarly publications. Just a few examples of trade publications: LivestockAdvertising Age, Farm Journal, The Grocer.

Substantive News and General Interest publications vary in their format focus on providing information, in a general manner, to a broad, educated audience. Some cite sources, most most do not. Articles may be written by a member of the editorial staff, a scholar or a free lance writer. In news sources, the author is listed as a byline. Authors of articles in this category are held accountable for their reporting.

Popular magazines come in many formats, although often slick and attractive in appearance with lots of color graphics (photographs, drawings, etc.). These publications do not cite sources in a bibliography. Information published in popular periodicals is often second or third hand and the original source is rarely mentioned. Articles are usually very short and written in simple language. The main purpose of popular periodicals is to entertain the reader, to sell products (their own or their advertisers), or to promote a viewpoint.

Primary vs. Secondary Research Articles

You've been asked to find at least one primary research articles. Primary sources in this case:

  • are original scientific reports of new research findings
  • usually include the following sections: Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion, References
  • are peer-reviewed (examined by expert(s) in the field before publication).

You may also choose to use some secondary sources (summaries or interpretations of original research) such as books (consult the E-Books section) or review articles (articles which organize and critically analyze the research of others on a topic).

These secondary sources are often useful and easier-to-read summaries of research in an area. Additionally, you can use the listed references to find useful primary research articles. See the E-Book tab in this ANSC guide to get more information on reference books that are useful for background information on a topic.

High Impact Journals

Here are just a few (of the thousands) scholarly journals in animal science and life sciences -- all of them available online through Cornell. Browsing the issues in journals in your field is just one more way to find articles -- just not a very efficient approach if you are looking for a very specific topic!