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Persuasive Essays

What To think about when researching

Become familiar with all sides of an issue!

  • Understand the history of the topic. (Books, E-books, reference databases)
  • Predict counter arguments your audience might make. (Pro/Con databases & Websites)
  • Find common ground. (Magazine articles and news articles)
  • Find strong support for your own perspective. Academic Journals

Academic journals vs magazines

Why use a Magazine?

Popular Magazines
These magazines are designed to entertain, sell products, give practical information, and/or to promote a viewpoint.

  • Authors are journalists, not experts. Articles may be unsigned or generated from corporate press releases.
  • Content includes popular personalities, news, and general interest articles.
  • Appearance is marked by glossy covers and lots of color illustrations and photographs. Articles are generally short.
  • Advertising is heavy.
  • Language is simple and designed to meet a minimal education level.
  • Sources may be second or third hand, and the original source is sometimes obscure.
  • Publishers are commercial enterprises.
  • ExamplesTimePeople WeeklyReaders DigestSports Illustrated, and Vogue.
  • Access Tools: Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature, Periodical Abstracts.


Prezi on Source Differences

What is the difference between scholarly articles and magazines? 

Different kinds of sources are useful for different reasons (a presentation)


Source Differences

Different kinds of sources are useful for different reasons when you are researching current issues! 

Academic Journals  focus on a specific disciplines or field of study and are written by scholars within that field. They go through a peer review process which means that other scholars in the field review the article before it is published. They are usually long and go more in depth.  Unlike newspapers and magazines, journals are intended for an academic or technical audience, not general readers.  

Magazine Articles are written by non-specialists intended for general readers. These articles are reviewed by an editor but not by a panel of experts. They may or may not mention sources in the text and usually contain extensive advertising, lavish phots and a colorful cover to market the magazine.  Examples: People, Time, Newsweek, Vogue, National Geographic, The New Yorker

News Articles  report on recent events, as they are happening or just after.  They focus on the "who", "what", and "where", and perhaps not as much on the "why" or "how." News articles typically do not feature citations, so you have to take the author's word that they are reporting their facts and sources accurately. 

Print Sources (books and eBooks) can be useful for background and in-depth analysis of long-standing issues.  Often it takes a long time for books to get published, so the information in a printed book might be less current than in an online source.

Trade journals contain information for professionals within a specific industry. Usually staff writers or industry professionals write the articles. They feature color photographs and industry specific advertisements. The articles discuss news and special features related to a specific industry.

Primary Sources are directly written by participants in current events, providing a first-hand account of what happened.  Interviews, blog posts, and Twitter feeds can be considered primary sources (but check with your instructor to make sure these are acceptable sources for your topic).

Why Use an Academic Journal?

Academic Journal

A journal is a scholarly publication containing articles written by researchers, professors and other experts. Journals focus on a specific discipline or field of study. Unlike newspapers and magazines, journals are intended for an academic or technical audience, not general readers.

Journal examples:

Art Bulletin journal cover Canadian Public Policy journal cover Wilson Bulletin journal cover
PLOS logo First Monday online journal logo

Most journal articles...

  • Are peer reviewed
  • Have original research
  • Focus on current developments
  • Cite other works and have bibliographies
  • Can be in print, online or both

Journals are published on a regular basis (monthly, quarterly, etc.) and are sequentially numbered.

Each copy is an issue; a set of issues makes a volume (usually each year is a separate volume). Like newspapers and magazines, journals are also called periodicals or serials.