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Distinctions Among Types of Periodicals: Purpose

This will help you understand what type of print publication you are dealing with.

Purpose

PURPOSE

Publishers will produce periodicals for different reasons depending on what their objective is. For instance, some may be published solely to inform a given audience (i.e. most academic journals) while others exist primarily to entertain and produce a profit (i.e. many popular magazines).  Many periodicals will combine profit-making with a desire to inform their readers. Determining the purpose of the periodical may help you decide in which category it belongs.  It is also important to be aware of purpose because this may influence the type of information presented.

  Back to Main Chart Academic Journals Substantial
News/General
Interest
Popular
Magazines
Newspapers
Purpose To inform, report, and make available original research and new findings To offer in-depth reporting and feature articles without scholarly conventions. To entertain and inform without providing in-depth analysis To disseminate news on a daily or weekly basis.
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Academic Journals -- To inform, report, and make available original research and new findings

This excerpt from the mission statement for the Journal of Abnormal Psychology shows that the purpose of this academic journal is to publish articles on basic research and theory in the broad field of abnormal behavior. Most articles included in this journal will be highly subject-specific and include results from the latest research in the field.

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Substantial News/General Interest -- To offer in-depth reporting and feature articles without scholarly conventions

This table of contents from an issue of the science magazine Discover shows the magazine's intent to provide articles about events in the fields of science. The articles do not go into in-depth analysis of research, however they do assume a certain level of education in their audience.

Other examples of substantial news magazines include Newsweek and Time, which often include feature-length articles on topics of current interest.

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Popular Magazines -- To entertain and inform without providing in-depth analysis

This excerpt from the table of contents of an issue of Glamour magazine includes articles intended to be entertaining (i.e. "The Year's Best Do's and Don'ts") as well as articles intended to be informative without going into great detail about the research behind a topic (i.e. "Silence the Dieter in Your Head").

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Newspapers -- To disseminate news on a daily or weekly basis.

In the example below a staff writer describes an upcoming meeting of a group and then describes the controversy surrounding it. He includes quotations from people that he interviewed.

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