Religious Periodicals: Scholarly or Not?

last modified 2017-12-14T11:58:56-04:00

Note: This guide focuses on evaluating periodicals for your CHR 250 assignments. Additional course-specific resources are available on the main Religion and Philosophy Subject Librarian page.

Articles from journals and magazines are important sources of current information. The CHR 250 term paper instructions specify that you use a variety of sources. Remember that both types offer valuable information.

  • popular magazines and scholarly journals
  • print (books and journals) and electronic (websites of reputable organizations)

Scholarly journals

  • have a serious "look" with charts, graphs, few glossy pictures--black and white
  • written by an established expert, scholar, or researcher in the field whose credentials and institutional affiliation are listed
  • reviewed by a panel of experts (peers)
  • use the terminology and language of the specific field
  • provides an in depth analysis on a specific subject
  • contents usually include an abstract, literature review, methods, results, conclusion, footnotes, and a bibliography
  • generally published by a professional organization or scholarly press

As a general guideline, searching in ATLA will retrieve more scholarly articles. It is also possible to limit your search to a specific title by selecting the Publications tab in the toolbar.


Specific examples for your CHR 250 assignments include:

Journal for the Study of the Old Testament
Journal of the American Academy of Religion
Journal of Biblical Literature
Journal of Religion

Popular magazines

  • often slick and glossy, heavily illustrated with photographs--colorful
  • usually shorter articles written by staff or free-lance writers whose credentials may or may not be included
  • reviewed by the magazine editor
  • usually written in simply language with little depth--no subject expertise assumed
  • provides an general overview on a variety of topics
  • rarely include footnotes or bibliographies
  • published for profit

As a general guideline, limiting a search in Academic Search Complete to Scholarly (peer reviewed) will retrieve more scholarly articles.


Specific examples for your CHR 250 assignments include:

Christian Century
Christianity Today

Doctrinal or Denomination-Specific Sources (both scholarly and popular)

1. targeted toward a specific audience

  • Baptist History and Heritage--Baptist perspective
  • Christian Century--opinion and news from the moderate to liberal Protestant
  • Christianity Today--conservative, evangelical perspective
  • Commonweal--Catholic perspective

2. have a wider appeal and usefulness beyond their denomination

  • Catholic Biblical Quarterly--one of the premiere resources for biblical studies

3. are often influenced by the sponsor/publisher

  • remember to discover the "who" behind the what



  • Can't remember where to find information about the "who"? You can consult the publishers guide to determine additional information about the publisher of the journal, magazine, or book.
  • You can also use Google to find additional information--look for a tab/header "about" the journal. As an example, here's the link for Baptist History & Heritage.
  • Print periodicals in the Tarver Library are arranged alphabetically by title, rather than by call number.
  • Electronic journals are found using the E-Journals link from the Library web page.