Article Types: What's the Difference Between Newspapers, Magazines, and Journals?

Characteristics of a Journal Article

Example of print journal issue

PMLA -- Publications of the Modern Language Association
(an example of an academic journal)

Analyzing a Journal Article

Journal Article Characteristics

Authors: Authors of journal articles are usually affiliated with universities, research institutions, or professional associations. Author degrees are usually specified with the author names, as are the affiliations.

Abstract: The article text is usually preceded with an abstract. The abstract will provide an overview of what the article discusses or reveals and frequently is useful in identifying articles that report the results of scientific studies. Use of Professional Terminology and Language: The language used in journal articles is specific to the subject matter being covered by the journal. For example, an article written for a psychological journal is written in an academic rather than popular style and will make heavy use of psychological terms.

In Text References: Journal articles normally will be profusely documented with sources that have provided information to the article authors and/or that provide further related information. Documentation of sources can be handled by in-text parenthetical references (MLA, APA, Chicago sciences styles), by the use of footnotes (Chicago humanities style), or by the use of endnotes (Turabian style). Individual journals will specify their own requirements for documentation.

Bibliography: Because journal articles use numerous sources as documentation, these sources are often referenced in an alphabetically or numerically arranged bibliography located at the end of the article. Format of the bibliography will vary depending on the documentation style used in the article.

Charts, Graphs, Tables, Statistical Data: Articles that result from research studies will often include statistical data gathered during the course of the studies. These data are often presented in charts and tables.

Length of Article: Journal articles, in general, tend to be fairly lengthy, often consisting of a dozen or more pages. Some journals also publish book reviews. These are typically brief and should not be confused with the full-length research articles that the journal focuses on.

Use of volume and issue numbering: Journals normally make use of volume and issue numbering to help identify individual issues in their series. Normally a volume will encompass an entire year's worth of a journal's issues. For example, a journal that is published four times yearly (quarterly) will have four issues in its yearly volume. Issues may be identified solely with numbers or with both numbers and date designations. For example, a quarterly journal will typically number its issues 1 through 4, but it might also assign season designations to the individual numbers, such as Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter. A monthly journal will have twelve issues in a yearly volume and might use the month names along with the issue numbers (issue 1, January; issue 2, February; and so on). Some magazines, trade publications, and newspapers might also make use of volume and issue numbering, so this isn't always the best indicator.

Subject Focus: Journals typically gather and publish research that focuses on a very specific field of inquiry, like criminology, or southern history, or statistics.

Overall Appearance: Journals are typically heavy on text and light on illustration. Journal covers tend toward the plain with an emphasis on highlighting key research articles that appear within a particular issue.

Tags: article types, journal articles, magazine articles, newsletter articles, newspaper articles, trade publication articles