Scholarly Articles, Magazine Articles, and Newspaper Articles

Identifying Different Types of Articles

In our scenario, you have to identify and find different types of articles. As pointed out already, the library databases often come with filters that allow you to separate out these different types of resources. There are even some library databases, such as JSTOR, that specialize in scholarly journal articles, or ProQuest’s US Major Dailies, which specializes in newspapers. But what if you’re using an aggregator, such as EBSCOhost, and you aren’t using a filter to limit your search? How will you be able to differentiate a newspaper article from a magazine article or from a scholarly journal article? And why does it matter? There is a separate chapter that goes into the differences between information resources in more depth, but for quick reference consider the following characteristics of these resource types.

Scholarly Articles

Journal article icon shows many pages full of text

Scholarly journal articles are usually long. They are also written with academic language that can sometimes be very technical. Especially in the sciences and social sciences, you will notice predictable sections within them, with subheadings like introduction, literature review, methodology, results/findings, and discussion/conclusion. They’ll have a list of references or works cited, and are often authored by more than one person (especially in the sciences and social sciences). Scholarly journal articles focus on research topics and questions, which means that they may not be reflecting on specific events happening at the moment of publication; rather, they tend to reflect on trends and larger issues.

Magazine Articles

Magazine icon shows short text and colorful images

Magazine articles will generally be shorter than scholarly journal articles, written so that they can be understood easily by non-experts, and may or may not have different sections within the article. If they do, the subheadings will not be as predictable as they are in a scholarly journal article from the sciences or social sciences, and the section headings will probably relate back to the topic of the article. A magazine article in PDF format will probably be colorful and have images. You probably won’t find a list of references or works cited at the end of a magazine article. In contrast to scholarly journal articles, magazine articles tend to look at specific events occurring at or around the time of publication, and the authors try to analyze that event to explain why it’s important.

Newspaper Articles

Newspaper icon

Newspaper articles are usually the shortest of all three article types. Like magazine articles, they are written in simple language to be understood easily by the general public, but because they are shorter, they don’t usually have different subsections within the article. While a printed newspaper article may have some images, there will be fewer than in magazines;  newspaper articles in library databases are typically only available as HTML (i.e., no images). They also tend to describe events that are occurring at the moment the article was published, with very little analysis of importance other than the fact that the event happened. First-hand accounts from people who experienced an event are often reported in newspaper articles. Exceptions to this would be editorials and “op-ed” pieces, which are opinion-based articles about an issue.


Image: “Articles” by Freepik, adapted by Aloha Sargent, from

Image: “Magazine” by Freepik, adapted by Aloha Sargent, from

Image: “Newspaper” by Freepik, adapted by Aloha Sargent, from


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Introduction to College Research Copyright © by Walter D. Butler; Aloha Sargent; and Kelsey Smith is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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