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COM 297 - Communication Research Methods

Research guide for students in COM 297 to assist with your coursework.

Scholarly / Peer-reviewed

A scholarly journal, sometimes called a research journal, is a periodical that contains articles written by scholars and experts in a particular subject field. Your professors are scholars in the discipline they teach. Because these articles are written by experts for other experts, they contain technical and specialized vocabulary (jargon).

A scholar prepares an article and submits it to a journal. A review process, known as peer review, requires submitted articles to be reviewed by other scholarly peers (or equals) to determine if an article should be published. When it works properly, the peer review process should ensure that only high-quality articles are published in a journal.

Anatomy of a Scholarly Article

Click on the bubbles below to learn about the different parts of a scholarly article:

Characteristics of Scholarly Articles

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What is the purpose?
To inform, report, and show original research, experimentation, and thought

Why use them?
To support your own research, opinion, hypothesis, writing, etc.

Who is it for?
The reader is assumed to have a similar scholarly background

Who writes the article?
Written by researchers and scholars

Who reviews the article?
Articles go through strict review process by peers within the discipline / subject

What type of language or writing is used?
These articles rely heavily on unique terminology, jargon, and language specific to the discipline

Are other sources and cited?
Sources are always cited as footnotes, endnotes, or reference lists (bibliographies)

Are images and advertising included?
Graphs, charts, and illustrations related to the research are used; typically no advertising but when used it is very selective

How often are issues of articles published?
Varies greatly and can range from monthly to bi-monthly to quarterly

Article Comparison Table (text)

  Scholarly Journals Trade Publications General Interest Magazines Newspapers Popular Magazines Sensational Magazines
Purpose To show and discuss original research and experimentation. Gives practical information to working professionals; showcases leaders/trends. Provides topic-specific information to a general, educated audience. Provides current news & special topics e.g. travel, book reviews Provides information to a general audience, may be topic specific, e.g. sports. Carries little authority; intends to shock readers.
Why Use Them? Often required for course project and research. Lends credibility to your own ideas and hypotheses. Useful for doing an analysis of a particular industry, applying for a job, or preparing for an interview. Good for identifying potential topics for a research project as well as identifying current or hot issues. Good for identifying potential topics and getting a snapshot of issues at time articles were published. Good for identifying current cultural norms, trends, and events at the time articles were published. Only useful if research project is related to this form of publishing and writing.
Authors Written by and for scholars or researchers in a specific discipline. Specialists or practitioners in a particular field or industry. The magazine's staff, a field expert, or a freelance writer/journalist. Staff reporters and columnists. Staff columnists. Staff writers.
Sources/Citations Always cited as footnotes, endnotes, or reference lists (bibliographies). Sources are mentioned within an article but rarely formally cited. Sources are mentioned within an article and occasionally cited formally. If used, sources are mentioned in an article but not formally cited. If used, sources are mentioned in an article but not formally cited. Rarely any mention of specific sources.
Language Uses discipline-specific terminology, jargon, & language. Uses jargon specific to to a particular field or industry. Uses formal language and some discipline-specific jargon. Uses general, everyday language. Uses general, everyday language. Inflammatory, sensational style yet very simple language.
Review Process Go through a strict review process by peers. Minimal review by editorial staff and rarely by peers. Minimal review by editorial staff. Reviewed by editorial staff. Minimal review by editorial staff. Minimal review, if any.
Audience Reader is assumed to have a similar scholarly background. Written for practicing professionals. For a broad, educated readership. For a broad audience. For a broad audience. For a broad audience.
Graphics Contains graphs, charts, and photographs specific to the research but seldom graphic art. Illustrations are charts, graphs, and photographs relevant to the article; some graphic art. Photographs, illustrations, and graphs are used to enhance the overall publication. Some images when relevant to a story. Photographs and images are used heavily. Photographs and images are used heavily, though often altered.
Publishers Most often published by a professional organization or specialty publishing company. Often published by professional organizations relevant to a particular field or industry. Generally published by commercial enterprises for profit. Published by commercial enterprises for profit. Published by commercial enterprises for profit. Published by commercial enterprises for profit.
Advertising Typically none or small amounts of selective advertising. Advertising is relevant to the profession or industry. Advertising appeals to a broad readership. Advertising appeals to a broad readership. Significant amounts and appeals to a broad audience. Advertising often reflects the style of the publication.
Examples Behavioral Neuroscience, Journal of Economics American Grocer, Aviation Week Psychology Today, Scientific American Chicago Tribune, Wall Street Journal Vogue, Sports Illustrated National Enquirer, Star

Instruction and Student Engagement Department, Milner Library, Illinois State University
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