Publication Types

Leanne Wells


Students sometimes experience difficulties in determining which publication types provide the most useful information for their research topic. Essentially, the type of publications you’ll need will depend on your assignment and the research question you are attempting to answer.

Do you need a broad overview about your topic, scholarly journal articles, current news, a case study, a company or industry report, or perhaps some statistics?

Not sure? That’s OK! Libraries are great places to ask for help. Try chatting online with library staff via our Ask Us virtual help desk feature on the library website, Library staff can offer students some suggestions as you search for scholarly information for your assignments.

Below are a few examples of the types of publications available to you from UNB Libraries.

Reference Materials

Each of our libraries has a collection of reference materials (encyclopedias, dictionaries, handbooks) which can help students with valuable background information about your topic, define terminology, and help to identify key scholars as well as research topics.

Some of our reference materials are available online through the library website (via e-Reference Materials), others are available in print. In either format, reference materials will provide you with reliable information throughout your studies.

You’ll learn more about using reference materials in the Finding Background Information section of this module.  A few examples of online Business encyclopedias and handbooks at UNB Libraries are:

Examples of encyclopedias and handbooks that you can access online via UNB Libraries.
Examples of encyclopedias and handbooks that you can access online via UNB Libraries.


Students often go to Wikipedia to find background information on a topic and academic references. While Wikipedia may be a good first step, the information you find might not be reliable and should not be included in an academic paper unless it can be verified using quality sources.


As demonstrated in Module 1: Research Basics, our library catalogue, UNB WorldCat, provides a quick and easy way to search for print and electronic materials at UNB Libraries. Search results will include books, e-Books, journals, newspapers, and magazines, as well as content from selected article databases. A few examples of books available at UNB Libraries using UNB WorldCat are:

Covers of books available via the library.
A selection of book titles available via the library.

Scholarly Journals

As noted in the previous section, professors often expect students to include a few journals articles that come from “scholarly” or “academic” or “refereed” journals in their reports or assignments. What constitutes a scholarly journal?

Scholarly journals are important sources of academic information! UNB Libraries subscribe to over 90,000 journals in either print or electronic form.

Scholarly journals publish a number of articles containing detailed results of original research and experimentation. These articles are often written by faculty from academic institutions like UNB. Over time the publication of these articles has a cumulative effect. Scholarly journals are largely responsible for building each academic discipline’s body of recorded knowledge or literature.

Faculty and students rely on articles from scholarly journals for this expert information and detailed research. Essentially scholarly articles offer a strong, reliable research foundation.

At the university level, you may hear scholarly journals referred to as: academic journals, research journals, peer-reviewed journals, refereed journals, or simply journals. A few examples of scholarly business journals are below:


Examples of academic journals available via the library, including MIT Sloan and the Journal of Accounting Research.
A selection of academic journal titles available via the library.

Scholarly journals are not like magazines, newspapers, or many types of popular websites. How can you tell the difference?  To begin with, scholarly journal titles often contain words such as:  journal, bulletin, review, and quarterly.

Articles in a number of scholarly journals undergo a process called peer-review, meaning that the article has gone through a rigorous process of evaluation by experts in the same field. You’ll learn more about the peer-review process in the next section of this module.


At the university level, you’ll find that the types of information a researcher needs can differ; accordingly our libraries also subscribe to thousands of magazines, which are considered popular press rather than scholarly. Examples of popular press magazines are Time and Macleans.

While scholarly journal articles are written for an academic audience for scholarly communication purposes, articles in popular magazines and newspapers are written for the general public. UNB Libraries also subscribes to magazines that focus on business. A few examples of business magazines are:


Examples of magazine titles held by the library, including Fortune and Forbes.
A selection of magazine titles held by the library.

Trade Publications

Business students also need to be aware of a third category of periodicals, called trade publications, which are written by and for business professionals working in different trades like Accounting or Marketing. Trade publications are also found in other professions such as psychology, nursing, social work and education.

At the university level, you may hear trade publications referred to as: trade journals, professional journals, practitioner’s journals, or trade magazines. Articles from trade publications tend to be easy to read and they often point to specific research findings for that particular industry or profession.

Trade publications are not scholarly journals neither are they popular magazines. Instead, they can be viewed as falling between the two categories. Essentially, trade publications are intended to be read by working professionals or managers in a particular profession.   


Examples of trade publications, including Marketing. Text containing characteristics of trade publications is on the left.
Trade publication characteristics.

News Sources

News sources and newspapers provide articles about current events and are good sources for international, national, provincial or local information. Our libraries subscribe to thousands of newspapers, which are considered popular press (for a general audience) rather than scholarly.

Use news sources when you want to find the most current information on a topic or to discover how popular opinion is trending. Examples of newspapers used for business research are:


Examples of news publications like the Financial Times and the National Post, along with information on how they are used.
Examples of business news publications and their uses.

The Key Differences

What are the differences between scholarly journals, trade publications and popular press? Take a look at the diagram below. It offers a breakdown of the key differences:


A diagram that displays key differences between scholarly, trade and popular publications.
Key differences between scholarly, trade and popular publications.

This YouTube video courtesy of Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Libraries gives a good overview of the differences between scholarly journals and other publication types:


So Which Publication Should I Choose?

Now that you know about the wide range of resources available to you, which is the best one for your research? Depends on your need!


A diagram that advises which publication type to use depending on your need.
Best publication type, depending on need.

From Event to Publication

Are you researching a specific event? If so, keep in mind that, when an event occurs, the information available about the event usually progresses from eye-witness accounts, to the reporting of facts, to the publication of scholarly literature. To demonstrate the timeline from the event to scholarly research and analysis take a minute to watch this short video:



When researching a business topic, begin with some background reading first.

Next, search for scholarly journal articles in order to lay a solid foundation for your assignment.

Pull in current information from quality business magazines, trade publications and news sources.

If required, add company/industry data, statistics and reports.



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Business Information Skills Certificate (BISC): Research Guide Copyright © 2023 by Leanne Wells is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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