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MAGAZINE OR SCHOLARLY JOURNAL
Indexes and Abstracts
There are several types of periodicals found in academic library collections.
Knowing something about the characteristics of each type--popular, scholarly,
or trade--will help in identifying the appropriate type of periodical titles.
TRADE PUBLICATIONS (also called PROFESSIONAL PUBLICATIONS)
There are several commonly understood meanings for the term gray literature. Gray literature can be used to describe publications which contain key elements of both popular magazines and scholarly journals. These publications usually include advertisements, news reports, brief articles and photographs, and may be published by large commercial publishers. However, they also include book reviews and articles which are scholarly in nature. Telltale signs of a scholarly article include an abstract, a bibliography, and pertinent information about the author (such as the educational institution he/she is affiliated with). Some examples of this kind of gray literature are Harpers, Atlantic Monthly, Discover, and Science.
Gray literature can also mean literature that has "fallen through the cracks," i.e. is not easy to locate. Typically this is because it has not been indexed. Examples are publications produced by think tanks, research organizations, or advocacy groups such as Green Peace. Some government documents would belong in this category. One of the largest sources of gray literature to date is the World Wide Web. If you are looking for publications that fit this definition of gray literature, ask a reference librarian for assistance.
INDEXES AND ABSTRACTS
Indexes and abstracts are used to locate journal articles, conference proceedings, and reviews. The Library has numerous indexes, encompassing all subject areas and types of publications. Often indexes and abstracts cover a specific subject area, such as Chemical Abstracts, or a group of interrelated disciplines, such as Social Sciences Index or Applied Science and Technology Index.
In most indexes you may look under an author or a subject. to retrieve a citation to a magazine or journal article. A citation will include all the information you need to find the article: author, title of the article, title of the magazine or journal, volume, date, page. Abstracts go a step further and provide a paragraph summarizing the article. Often you can tell from the abstract whether or not the article is an in-depth journal article or a more superficial magazine article. If you decide the entire article is worth reading, the next step is to look in EUREKA to see if our Library owns or has access to the journal, either electronically or in print.
An increasing number of indexes are available electronically; they contain citations, abstracts, and sometimes the full text of articles. Searching for abstracts and citations is easier in these databases because they allow for searching more than one year at a time. One disadvantage to electronic databases is that they generally donít have a very extensive backfile, often only the last ten to fifteen years. When searching for older articles, print indexes and abstracts remain the only option.
The databases are available through the Library Home Page. Click on Databases and Periodical Indexes to get an alphabetical listing of the databases by title or to select a database by subject.
A Sacramento State Library Research Guide compiled by Carolyn Zeitler
and revised by Maria Kochis, Science Reference Librarian, firstname.lastname@example.org
Last updated 6/09