Your professor has asked you to find a scholarly, professional, academic, peer-reviewed*, or refereed* journal as opposed to a popular magazine. There is no clear-cut definition, but here are some clues to help you distinguish between them.
|Written for||Professors & scholars||General public|
|Written by||Scholars, researchers, academics||Journalists, staff writers, freelance writers|
Serious & sober with few colors
Advertisements and photographs rare
Glossy with advertisements
Are signed and often include author's credentials
Are written in scholarly & specialized language of discipline
Give more detailed discussion of an event
Contain footnotes and bibliographies
Contain charts & graphs
Are not always signed by author
Give first reports of an event
|Values & uses||Reports on original research;
in-depth analysis of topics;
academic book reviews
|Current events and news;
brief, factual information;
|Examples||Advances in Nursing Science
Journal of Abnormal Psychology
Modern Fiction Studies
*Peer-reviewed/Refereed - articles are published only after receiving approval by an editorial board of experts (the author's "peers"). This means that a subject expert must review and correct the article before the journal will publish it. Consequently, peer-reviewed journal articles are typically considered higher quality than non-peer-reviewed articles (adapted from Virginia Commonwealth University Libraries).
For a short explanation of peer review in scientific fields visit Making sense of science stories, a PDF document from the organization Sense About Science.