Terms to Know

Several words are used to describe periodicals. Sometimes these words are used interchangeably, but they can also have distinct meanings. The most common words you will hear are periodicals, serials, journals and magazines.

A periodical is a publication that is issued on an on-going basis, maybe as often as every day, or as rarely as once a year. It is called a "periodical" because it is issued periodically, or occasionally. Journals, magazines and newspapers are all examples of different kinds of periodicals.

A serial is the same as a periodical, just a different name for it. Some people may refer you to the Serials Holdings List rather than the Periodicals Holdings List, but they mean the same thing.

A journal is a specific kind of periodical published by an organization (a university department, a special society, etc.). Articles in journals are usually written by scholars with expertise in a specific subject; articles are usually lengthy and include many references to other research. Most journals are published 4 times a year.

Examples of journals:

Journal of Small Business Management
Evangelical Quarterly
Western Journal of Nursing Research

A magazine is a periodical intended for a more general audience than a journal, and is usually published weekly or monthly. Articles may be (but usually aren't) written by experts, but they are fairly easy to understand and they don't include bibliographies. Magazine articles are much shorter than journal articles.

Examples of magazines:

The Mennonite
Sports Illustrated

Using Periodical Indexes

Periodical indexes are excellent tools for locating articles in magazines, journals or newspapers on almost any research topic. When you need to find an article on your topic, you certainly don't have time to page through each of the journals in the library to find a useful article. Learning to use the periodical indexes can save time and frustration.

A periodical index lists all the information you need to find an article:

author & title of the article
title of the journal that contains the article
volume & date of the journal, plus the pages on which you will find the article

Periodical indexes have been published in paper format (books) for many, many years, and each library chooses which indexes it subscribes to. The indexes in paper format are located on the main floor of the EMU library.

Recently, electronic periodical indexes have become available. Electronic indexes are accessible from the "Information Resources" section of the library's home page (through FirstSearch and EBSCOhost, for example).

To use periodical indexes effectively, you must first determine which of the many indexes to use.

Here is a list of some of the periodical indexes in the EMU library. Many of these are available online. Check the Subject or Title list on the library web site to see which ones you have access to.

Move your mouse/cursor over each name to find a description of what subject matter each index includes.

You could guess that New Testament Abstracts is going to list articles about the New Testament. And Current Index to Journals in Education is going to list articles about education. But what does Humanities Index cover? And what about MLA International Bibliography?

If you can't identify the topic by the title, you can read the introductory pages of one of the index volumes.

Which of these indexes would you use to find articles about teaching preschoolers?

Business Periodicals Index

Education Index

Humanities Index

Religion Index One: Periodicals

Which of these indexes would you use to find information on the folklore (customs, legends, etc.) of Russia?

MLA International Bibliography

Biography Index

Psychological Abstracts

Religion Index One: Periodicals


(In order to continue in the tutorial, you must answer the last question correctly.)

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