Tools for Finding Information
In the library, there are two main tools we use to find information.
Library Catalogs are what we use to find books, videos, CDs, and any other physical item that sits on our shelves. They don't provide the actual information itself, but just point to something that the library physically owns.
Library Databases make up the library's online resources. On a web page, they give you the full-text of articles from published magazines, journals, newspapers, and reference books.
Magazines vs. Journals
Magazines are considered popular works, whereas journals are considered scholarly. But what does that mean?
Popular works are generally aimed at a wide audience. The publisher wants to make a profit by selling copies of their publication. Popular works are easy to read and include many advertisements. The articles are usually written by professional writers or journalists, who may or may not have expertise on the subject they are writing about. Usually the sources consulted are not documented (no bibliography at the end of the article.)
Examples of popular works are magazines such as Good Housekeeping, Newsweek, and Rolling Stone. Newspapers are also considered popular works.
Scholarly journals, on the other hand, are written for an audience of scholars and experts in the field. They are usually published by a university or professional organization. Articles may be quite lengthy and provide original information or new research findings. They are written by scholars and researchers in the field. Most articles have an extensive bibliography of sources consulted.
The articles in scholarly journals are peer reviewed (also known as "refereed.") This means a panel of experts will read an article before it is published. They make sure that study follows protocols in the field, and that the argument is sound.
Examples of scholarly journals are Agronomy Journal, Journal of Gerontology, and Volta Review.
Another category is professional, trade, and industry journals. These are written for people in specific careers. They may use a lot of jargon related to the field and if there are advertisements they are related to the profession or industry.
Examples of professional, trade and industry journals are American Libraries, AG Week, Beef, and RN.
Ask a Librarian
Information Services Librarian
Lake Land College Library