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Research Process

This tutorial aims to help develop effective library research skills and critical thinking skills in all courses at Prince George's Community College.

What are Periodicals?

A periodical is a magazine or journal that is published in a regular interval such as:

  • Quarterly: issued every three months
  • Monthly: issued every month
  • Bimonthly: issued every two months
  • Weekly: issued every week
    • Newsweek
    • Time Magazine
  • Daily: issued every day
    • USA Today
    • The Washington Post

When Evaluating A Periodical -Check These Basic Points: 

  • Author: it is important to get some biographical information about the author if you are not familiar with that person. You should find out if this person is an authority in the particular discipline, subject, profession, etc. Some online databases such as ProQuest link the author's name to other articles included in the database.
  • Titledetermine whether the title is appropriate for the topic that you are writing about. Having keywords in the title is often a clue that the article may be useful.
  • Publisher: it is important to  know who the publisher is and the type of publisher. For example it is important to know if the publisher is a trade publisher, scholarly publisher, or a small press, and what is the publisher's specialty. Some online databases such as ProQuest provide a link to the publisher from the article that has been retrieved. 
  • Audience: it is important to determine who the article and publication is intended for.
  • Date of Publication: you should know the publication date because the topic that you are writing about determines how old the information can be. It is important to know the frequency of publications. If it is an online article it is important to know how frequent the database loads articles from print sources.
  • Pagination: note whether the periodical contains an index, appendices, illustrations, and bibliographies. These items are useful for locating additional information.

Magazines, Journals, and Newspapers: What's the Difference

The Prince George's Community College Library collection contains magazines, journals and newspapers. An assignment may require that articles be found in journals, not magazines and newspapers. What is the difference?

magazine may be up-to-date, retrospective, and informative, but the articles are not based on in-depth research. Magazines are often full of large color photos. The articles are most often written by journalists and sometimes may be unsigned. The main purpose of magazines is to provide light coverage on topics of popular interest. Examples of magazines are:

  • People Weekly
  • TV Guide
  • Good Housekeeping

journal contains articles that are based on research in a particular field. The authors of the articles are experts and scholars in the subject. Journal articles are scholarly, may be peer reviewed or refereed, often lengthy, and may contain tables and graphs that support the author's discussion. Journal articles usually conclude with a list of references, called a bibliography, which are the sources from which the author did research. Examples of journals are:

  • Political Science Quarterly
  • Bulletin of Atomic Scientists
  • Journal of Asian Studies

Newspapers tend to be more current because they are published more frequently. A newspaper does not cover information in-depth on an issue but describes events as they occur. Many newspapers tend to focus on geographic news from a local perspective.

  • The New York Times
  • Baltimore Sun
  • The Washington Post

What is a Scholary Journal?

Full Text vs. Abstract/Citation Only

The articles that are in the research databases are electronic copies of research articles that originally appeared in print. Most of the publishers that license their articles to research databases allow access to the full-text of their articles. However, some publishers do not. Those that do not (a small percentage) allow only the citation and/or abstract.


An abstract includes a summary of the research or article. It is intended to give the reader an idea of what will be found within the article. An abstract explains the problem or topic the article is addressing. It may also briefly discuss the findings of the research as well as the method used in acquiring the information. An abstract is generally just a short paragraph.


A full-text article includes a title page, abstract, body (including methodology, results and discussion), conclusion and references. A full article is generally several pages in length. 

Limiting Search Results to Full-Text

You can limit your results to full-text only. Check the box on the database that says “full-text only”. All full-text articles will contain the citation information needed to cite the source.

If an article is not available in full-text, it may be available in another database. Search the Periodicals Locator by the title of the journal, magazine, or newspaper. This may show a full-text result in another database.