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Scholarly Journal Articles and Magazine Articles


Magazines & Newspapers (Popular)

Journals (Scholarly)

Intended audience

  • General public
  • Professionals in a field
  • Scholars / Experts

Articles written by

  • Reporters
  • Journalists
  • Almost anyone
  • Professionals in a field
  • Scholars
  • Experts


  • News
  • Non-technical language
  • Entertainment and general-interest articles
  • No bibliographies or formal references
  • In-depth research
  • Technical language
  • Original research studies
  • Bibliographies & references
  • More often objective than magazines


  • Consumer advertising
  • Glossy photos
  • Attractive layout
  • Dense text
  • Fewer, more specialized ads

Publication schedule

  • Weekly
  • Daily
  • Available at newsstands
  • Monthly
  • Quarterly
  • Biannually
  • Subscription only

Can be useful for

  • Broad overview of complex issues
  • Popular perspective on any issue
  • Finding out what’s being written about a topic generally
  • Current research findings
  • Checking accuracy of data or statistics
  • Reviewing the important research on a specific topic or theme


Time, U.S. News & World Report, and National Geographic

Journal of American History,

Journal of Contemporary History


Subscription Databases and Web Sites


Subscription Databases

Web Sites


Databases carry journal, magazine, or newspaper articles in either abstracts or full-text format

Content varies, including commercial, informational, government, some online journals, etc. Information is not always reliable and accurate.


Cover single or multiple subject disciplines



Databases covers journal articles written by professionals in a field, scholars or experts

Could be anyone


Frequency of updates varies and is published by database companies. Databases carrying news coverage update daily.

Varies from site to site. Check for a last updated date before using information from a page.

Searching Feature

Most databases offer three levels of searching features, basic, advanced and expert.

Many different search engines are available for locating information. None of them cover the entire web.


Paid for by the Library. Subscriptions vary in price from several hundreds to 10,000 or more.



24/7 available. Remote access requires login.

Freely available anytime. No login required.

Primary and Secondary Sources

Primary Sources   Primary sources are the evidence left behind by participants or observers. 
"Primary sources originate in the time period that historians are studying.  They vary a great deal. They may include personal memoirs, government documents, transcripts of legal proceedings, oral histories and traditions, archaeological and biological evidence, and visual sources like paintings and photographs. " ( Storey, William Kelleher.  Writing History: A guide for Students. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1999, p.18).

Secondary Sources   "Secondary works reflect on earlier times. Typically, they are books and articles by writers who are interpreting the events and primary sources that you are studying. Secondary works vary a great deal, from books by professional scholars to journalistic accounts.  Evaluate each secondary work on its own merits, particularly on how well it uses primary sources as evidence." (Storey, William Kelleher. Writing History: A guide for Students. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1999, p.18-19).


Examples of Primary and Secondary Sources


Primary Sources

Secondary Sources


Primary Sources are the first hand evidence left behind by participants or observers at the time of events. 

Secondary Sources are materials that digest, analyze, evaluate and interpret information contained within primary sources or other secondary sources.


·         Autobiographies, memoirs, diaries, emails, narratives, eyewitnesses

·         Letters, correspondences

·         First-hand newspaper and magazine accounts of events

·         Legal cases, treaties

·         Statistics, surveys, opinion polls, scientific data

·         Records of organizations and government agencies

·         Original works of literature, art or music

·         Cartoons, postcards, posters

·         Map, photographs, films

·         Objects and artifacts that reflect the time period in which they were created

·         Books, such as biographies (not an autobiography), textbooks, Encyclopedias, dictionaries, handbooks

·         Articles, such as literature reviews, commentaries, research articles in all subject disciplines

·         Criticism of works of literature, art and music

To learn more about how to search primary sources, please check the Primary Source LibGuides.     

Books and Articles





Lengthy – frequently 100+ pages

Brief – normally 1-20 pages


Broad scope, high detail, “big picture”

Narrow scope, high detail, greater specificity of focus


Historical, summary

It takes time to write, edit, and publish a good book on a topic, so don’t look for current developments here


Articles take less time to write and publish, so they cover recent developments sooner, but with less depth of analysis

May be useful for

Essays representing multiple viewpoints;

Overviews on a topic or event


Report of a single piece of research or investigation;

Tracking the evolution of the popular perception of an event or issue over time

Where to look for

Library Catalog

Article Databases

John F. Kennedy Memorial Library
California State University, Los Angeles
5151 State University Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90032-8300