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Scholarly Journals vs Academic Business Articles

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Jul 2, 2006   #1
(1) The ability to determine differences between scholarly and trade publications is an important tool for conducting research for business sources. The fundamental difference is that they appeal to different audiences and usually contain articles composed by different types of writers as well. A scholarly journal is also referred to as being refereed, whereby peers in the particular discipline of expertise review, critique and ultimately sanction whether or not submitted material is worthy of being published. Scholarly journals are targeted to the academic world and contain original research and detailed analyses relative to existing standards of documentation determined by leading practitioners in the field. An abstract or a synopsis of the article's thesis, methodology and conclusion is presented at the beginning of most scholarly articles and serve as an accepted language of communication within the academic world. The Journal of Abnormal Psychology for instance would be utilized by researchers and scholars engaged in work in the psychology field. The language used is technical in nature, consist of extensive footnoting and incorporates an expanded bibliography for cross-reference purposes.

In contrast, trade publications are targeted to industry professionals and focus on information that is pertinent to news regarding products and analysis of data that directly relates to the field. An example is Advertising Age. This trade publication would be primarily read by business practitioners in areas of marketing, public relations and advertising as a means of keeping up with the latest trends in the profession. The writers of such articles usually are professionals in the field and occasionally journalists. Whereas scholarly journals are essentially governed by academic professionals, trade publications are driven by industry insiders and working industry professionals whose points of view are based largely from their tangible work in the craft. An article in Advertising Age might address the impacts of the .com revolution on marketing strategies and why some businesses have been able to sustain themselves and others have not. Similarly, an article appearing in Architecture is more likely to be written by one who works for an architecture firm as opposed to one who teaches architecture at a college or university. Again, the fundamental difference here is on emphasis and readership. Trade publications provide insightful and critical work just as scholarly journals do as well. However, the methods used differ from a stylistic standpoint and from the intended readership.

(2) As one seeks to engage in research on business, it is very important that they know the difference between scholarly and trade materials. By being able to distinguish the two forms, a researcher is better prepared to identify what they might find and why certain data is presented in the manner it is in the first place. The skill of distinguishing is also important because the researcher will be better suited to identify writing biases based on the author's reason for publishing their work. Ultimately the skilled researcher will benefit from compiling data from both forms of publication. Academics and industry professionals generally represent diametrically opposing perspectives based on the nature of their respective work. The former tend to be more theoretic in their delivery and the latter more practical. However, by dealing with both vantage points the researcher benefits the most.

Another reason it is important for researchers of business to know how to identify trade and scholarly differences is because it will improve their qualitative efforts of finding data, presenting it efficiently and can strengthen and define how their own style of research and writing will develop. It is also valuable for the researcher because they develop a greater sense of being a critical thinker. For instance, the researcher will learn to recognize how trade publications, comparatively speaking, are more marketing and information driven than scholarly publications. Following this same line of thinking, the researcher will also learn to look more to scholarly journals for compilations of bibliographic material for future projects of their own. A trained and skilled business researcher will ultimately benefit from both forms of publication because they become better equipped to breakdown data and apply useful portions accordingly.

Perhaps the most significant advantage for a researcher of business in the skill of distinguishing types of publication comes from being able to see how each benefit from the other, and adapts according to the intended audience. Since it is the researcher's objective to first learn as much about a specific topic as possible, it becomes critical for them to identify other theoretic works concerning the topic and to consider examples from practicing industry professionals as well. The ability to find balance in how information is communicated is a valuable lesson in research. Moreover, the reality is that most successful theories on business project applicable forms just as most successful business practitioners have, in one form or another, accessed tried and failed theories to guide them.

(3) Treatment of East Asian economic markets and their subsequent impacts through crises were handled differently in two publications that covered the episode. In one study of the financial crunch that severely penetrated Asian countries in 1997, International Monetary Fund (IMF) writers (1998) argued that overextension of external deficits, extensive debt incursion, ineffective internal regulatory measures, lack of research, and overzealous expectations by international lenders were the circumstances that caused the Asian economic crisis. Appearing in the trade publication Finance & Development, the article represents pertinent news on international investment trends in Asia and reviews and forecast potential solutions to prevent such occurrences from taking place in the future. It is important to note that most trade publication articles are written by professional practitioners in the field. Notwithstanding, IMF Writers (1998) are also representing an agenda that is designed to promote and encourage stability within orderly exchange among its member nations.

Language used in trade publications tends to reflect technical jargon that industry insiders all can understand. Monetary policy, financial sector and moral hazard are examples used by IMF Writers (1988) to illustrate the Asian crisis. By exploring excessive currency depreciation, the need for insolvent entities to be eliminated or co-opted by stronger ones and the complexities associated with acting on emotions within in the context of making sound economic decisions, the authors speak in ways that are readily understood by others in the field. Some trade publications use citations, but it is not a required practice in this format. Accordingly, there are none to be found in "The Asian Crisis" despite the fact that a chart of net capital flows appears as an illustration of portfolio investments from developing countries, including Asia.

In another article on the Asian economic crisis in 1997, Nidhiprabha (1998) found that economic recession in Thailand was the byproduct of limitations on public spending and cumbersome government debt accumulated from high interest rates. This article appears in the scholarly journal ASEAN Economic Bulletin and subsequently follows different rules from that of Finance & Development. For starters, the author is an Economics professor at Thammasat University and writes in a manner that offers original research, is an in depth study on a very specific phenomenon and contains an abstract to clearly state his thesis. Unlike trade publications, scholarly journals always list the author by name and incorporate extensive documentation of ideas, primary and secondary sources. Whereas the Finance & Development article is four pages, the ASEAN Economic Bulletin article is nine pages with seven documented end notes and a list of fourteen outside sources for reference purposes.

For researchers in academic circles, it is important to provide sources that many times are referenced by readers who are engaged in their own work. Additionally, it is standard practice for scholarly articles to contain more detailed background information on terms and concepts through what is referred to as a literature review. Hence Nidhiprabha offers readers insight into concepts such as consumption, recession, debt-deflation theory, and balance of payments model and micro and macro economics respectively. Such other scholarly journals as the Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Review and the Journal of Money, Credit and Banking are infused to pass the demanding standards determined by academic publishers. Despite different methods and intended readerships, both articles conclude that debt-deflation issues will continue until more efficient economic principles are applied.


Boylston, Susanna. June 2, 2003. Scholarly, Trade, Opinion, or Popular? : A Guide to distinguishing among Articles in Scholarly Journals, Trade Journals, Opinion Magazines and Popular Magazines. Retrieved September 7, 2005.

IMF Staff Writers. (1998). "The Asian Crisis, Causes and Cures." Finance &
Development, 35, 18- 21.

Nidhiprabha, Bhanupong. (1998). "Economic Crisis and the Debt-Deflation Episode in
Thailand." ASEAN Economic Bulletin, 15, 309- 318.



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