How do I know if a source is from a trade / professional publication?

Trade or professional sources are written for an audience of professionals in the field. They may resemble scholarly journal articles or popular magazine / newspaper articles. Some library databases will include scholarly, popular, and trade sources, so you’ll want to be able to tell the difference between the three.

  • Do not include original research
  • Trade / professional sources focus on applying research to practical, professional situations (e.g. an article discussing how teachers can apply the latest research on learning theories to their teaching).
  • Specialized knowledge is required and/or assumed
  • The articles may be easier to read than scholarly articles–they are written to provide news and interest stories to people in a specific profession–but they are intended to be read by a specialized audience.
  • Specialized vocabularly (jargon) is used without explanation or definition
  • It is assumed that anyone reading a trade publication will be a member of the profession, and will therefore understand any jargon used.
  • Pictures are common, and are used in a decorative sense
  • Images are used to entice the reader and/or to make the article (and its content) more appealing.
  • Advertisements are (often) prominent
  • Many trade / professional publications are funded through advertising. Advertisements will be specialized, and targeted to the publication’s audience (e.g. math manipulatives in a publication for elementary school teachers).
  • Bibliographies may or may not be included
  • The inclusion of a bibliography or works cited depends on the individual publication (and the profession of its readers).
  • In-text citations / endnotes / footnotes are not used consistently
  • Again, the inclusion of in-text citations / endnotes / footnotes depends on the individual publication (and the profession of its readers).

When would I want to use a trade/professional journal?

  • When you want to find information about practical application of an idea within a profession.
  • Trade / professional articles do not contain original research, but focus on applying research to real life situations (e.g. an article discussing how teachers can apply the latest research on learning theories to their teaching)
  • When you need business information.
  • Trade / professional sources are written for professionals who are actively engaged in the subject / field, and contain current news items, industry specific regulatory information, articles on new techniqoes/trends, patents, etc.
  • When you need to see what the most important or current issues are in a profession.
  • The assumed audience is made up of professionals who have expertise in the subject

Test: Popular

Explore the image below — mouseover the targets to learn more about the anatomy of a trade publication. This example uses an article from a trade journal, but the characteristics discussed also apply to some magazines, and newspapers.

Callari, James J. "Making Old Bags New Again." Plastics Technology (2012): 36-41. Academic Search Premier. Web. 30 Jan. 2013.

Who is the audience?

Trade publications are intended for a specific, professional audience. The articles are written for readers who work in the field.

This trade publication--Plastics Technology--is published for "personnel employed in manufacturing plants where metalworking operations are performed."

By reading the title and a portion of the text, you can tell that this article is intended for readers with an interest / a stake in the future of plastic bag production.

VIEW THE LINK FOR MORE INFO

Plastic Technology Dedicated to improving

Who is the author?

Articles in trade publications are authored either by a professional from the field, or a journalist with expertise. The author of this article is a journalist who has spent years writing in the field of plastics.

What kind of advertising?

You'll notice that this article, like other articles from trade publications, contains advertising. The advertisements featured are only relevant to those working in the field of plastics.

Colorful images and photos are often used in trade publications to highlight content presented in an article.

What kind of advertising?

You'll notice that this article, like other articles from trade publications, contains advertising. The advertisements featured are only relevant to those working in the field of plastics.

What kind of advertising?

You'll notice that this article, like other articles from trade publications, contains advertising. The advertisements featured are only relevant to those working in the field of plastics.

Much like popular publications, trade publications often include glossy, color photos and images.

These images are often used in trade publications to highlight content presented in an article.

What kind of advertising?You'll notice that this article, like other articles from trade publications, contains advertising. The advertisements featured are only relevant to those working in the field of plastics.

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