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ENGL 308 Research Guide (Hartzog): Source Evaluation & APA Style

APA Citation Style

Elements of an Article Citation in a Database

A bibliographic citation describes an item found in a database (or library catalog) and can help you evaluate the source. A citation typically includes the author, the date of publication, edition or revision, title, and the publication source (journal title or book publisher). Below is a sample bibliographic citation. The format for bibliographic citations may vary slightly, depending on which database you use.

Elements of a citation

Popular vs. Scholarly vs. Trade Literature

In the research databases, there are tools that help you filter your article search specifically for the source formats of scholarly journals, magazines or newspapers. Still it is helpful to know the characteristics of the periodical literature you will encounter either in print or online as you do research. Of course information from scholarly journals is the best for academic research!


Professional Journals

Popular Magazines
(and Newspapers)

Trade Publications

Article Type

In-depth research articles, often peer-reviewed; usually includes an abstract; may be brief news of developments in the field or recent research, academic book reviews

Brief, nontechnical, current events, news; quick facts; short interviews, brief book reviews, ads

Product reviews; industry statistics; new publications; patents


To provide information about, report, or present original research or experiments

To provide general information to, entertain, or persuade the general public

To provide news or information to practitioners in an industry or trade


Clearly defined; experts with significant knowledge in the subject area, scholars, and researchers

Not always identified; staff writers

Not always identified; staff writers, practitioners in the trade


Professors, researchers, and students, members of association; other professionals in the field


Intended for those with an interest in a specific industry or trade


Typically a university or professional association

Typically commercial

Typically commercial

Writing Style

Formal or semiformal; scholarly language; may use technical or specialized language

Informal; language is easy to understand

Informal; may use technical or specialized language


Footnotes or endnotes; bibliography; suggested resources for more information


Suggested resources for more information, sometimes a brief bibliography


May include tables, graphs, charts, or equations to support the research

Often includes glossy photographs, ads, images

May include black and white or color images, graphs, or charts


Sloan Management Review, Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, Journal of Computer Information Systems, Journal of American History

Time, Newsweek, Business Week, Psychology Today, PC World, Washington Post

Association Management, People Management, Federal Computer Week, Food Technology, Workforce