The following is a list of criteria that can be used to distinguish between popular magazines, trade magazines and scholarly journals.

Authors Journalists, staff writers, popular authors, or it may not be listed Staff writers and experts in the field Researchers and experts
Audience The general public Members of an industry, trade or profession Researchers and experts
Documentation Sources are usually not cited Sources may be cited Sources are always cited
Content General interest, news or entertaining stories Current trends, standards and new technology in a profession Original research findings, scholarly reports, methodology and theory
Language Broad, simple language that anyone can understand Jargon that assumes expertise in the field Jargon that assumes expertise in the field
Publisher Commercial organizations Associations Associations or Universities
Appearance Glossy paper, advertisements, heavily illustrated in color Glossy paper, Advertisements (most are trade-related) moderately illustrated in color Plain paper, few or no advertisements (only academic-related), charts and graphs and some illustrations in black and white
Review Policy Reviewed by editors Reviewed by editors Reviewed by peers and experts in the field. The editorial board is made up of distinguished scholars.
Examples Newsweek, Economist, Psychology Today, Cooking Light

Advertising Age, Publisher's Weekly, Chemical and Engineering News

Chemical and Engineering News
Journal of the American Medical Association, Journal of Southern History, Journal of Modern Literature, Annual Review of Biochemistry

Journal of the American Medical Association

TIP: If you are still having trouble determining whether a particular title is scholarly or popular, one great resource is the Ulrich's Periodicals Directory. Search for the title of the publication and under the heading "Document Type" it will tell you whether it is "Academic/Scholarly," "Trade" or "Consumer" - i.e. intended for a popular audience.

TIP: Ulrich's also includes this "referee shirt" icon ( peer-review icon on Ulrich's ) in the search results before any title which is a peer-reviewed publication.

searching for a title on Ulrich's
journal of popular music studies - scholarly
rolling stone - popular