I’d like to learn more about Newcastle!


Journal Articles: Professional Vs. Academic Literature 

By Newcastle University

There are many different types of information available when it comes to researching for your assignment, dissertation, or thesis, and as a university student, you’ll know to be on the lookout for high-quality academic sources. 

However, professional or trade information sources also have a lot to offer and can help provide a different perspective to your research.  

Let’s start by looking at the differences between academic and professional journals...


Academic Journals 

The academic journal is a mainstay of university research and study.

These journal articles, sometimes called scholarly articles, aim to disseminate research, providing accounts of findings and analysis, including empirical research and methodological studies. Written by experts in a field of study, academic journal articles are considered particularly high quality as they go through a peer-review process, where the content is checked and approved by other experts in the same field. 

Aimed at fellow scholars or researchers, there is an expectation that the reader will be familiar with the field of study so the language used in an academic journal may be technical and complex.  You may find some charts or images to illustrate findings, and articles will be well referenced with a clear bibliography. 

Examples include Film Quarterly, The British Medical JournalAnalyst, British Educational Research Journal  


Professional Journals 

Professional journals, sometimes called trade magazines, focus on providing up-to-date information on trends, products, and industry news, to people working within a particular profession or trade. Although not usually peer-reviewed, these articles are written by professionals or industry experts who have experience within the relevant field.  

While you may find some jargon, professional articles are usually accessible and styled more like popular magazines with shorter articles and colour pages. There may also be a brief bibliography or some recommended further reading. You’ll sometimes see advertisements linked to the relevant trade or industry as well as job advertisements.  

Examples include: Variety, Harvard Business ReviewThe Architects’ Journal, Farmers’ Guardian 

 New Project - 2022-03-11T155625.060

Finding Academic and Professional Journals 

The Library subscribes to a range of both academic and professional journals. 

You can find curated lists of journals relevant to your subject area in your Subject Guide.  Alternatively, you can use BrowZine, to browse the Library’s subscriptions by topic. BrowZine also allows you to add journals to your personal bookshelf and will notify you of the latest publications. 

If you know the name of a particular journal you wish to browse, you can search for this via Library Search and use the resource type filter to limit to Journals. Most academic databases will have the option to filter your search by source type, so look out for ‘journal’ and ‘trade journal’ filter options. 


Professional vs Academic 

So, which is best for your research? 

The answer depends on your information need. The information choices you make should be considered and strategic; you’ll need to select whichever will help you to answer the questions you’re researching – and that might be both! 

While both information sources offer current and up-to-date information, as volumes are published on a regular basis, the academic journal is best for an in-depth look at cutting-edge research and ideas, and the professional journal gives you the latest insight into the on-the-ground experiences of those working in the field today.  

Whether you choose academic, professional, or both, remember it is important to take a critical approach to all information sources and evaluate not only their currency and relevancy but also the authority of the person who wrote it, the accuracy of their arguments and the purpose behind the writing. 

A broad, balanced, well chosen, range of information sources can help you to demonstrate your knowledge of your subject and the wider professional field, as well as indicating your critical and creative approach to using the information in your research. 

If you’d like to find out more about information types, ways to find information sources or how to develop your academic skills more generally, take a look at the Library’s YourSkills programme.  It offers a range of self-enrol sessions available throughout the year designed to support your studies. 


Academic Skills Kit