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Communication Research: Vocabulary

Davis: FYSE 111: Comics & American Culture

A Database

Database:   Generally speaking a database is an organized collection of structured information or data typically stored electronically in a computer system.  A library database is a (paid subscription) searchable electronic index of published, reliable resources. Library databases provide access to a wealth of useful research materials from academic journals, newspapers, and magazines. Databases include articles, e-books, relevant Web resources, and various multimedia. The information found in databases is either originally created or comes from different, reliable sources.

Though a database may index all articles available, not every article is available full text. It depends on many factors including the type of subscription access purchased, publication access polices, and pay wall restrictions. Each article, even those in the same database, may have differing access rights and policies.

NOTE: Databases are not “Internet" sources. They are paid, subscription services. One must login with their CofC username & password to use a database.

definition adapted from Berkeley College Library

An Article

Article: An article is a written work published in a print or electronic medium. It may be for the purpose of propagating news, research results, academic analysis, or debate.

news article discusses current or recent news of either general interest (i.e. daily newspapers) or of a specific topic (i.e. political or trade news magazines, club newsletters, or technology news websites).1

magazine article is a nonfiction composition that stands on its own within a publication. Magazines are also known as popular periodicals because they are published for the general public. Examples include a profile of a significant person, an opinion piece, or personal essay. A magazine will have accompanying photographs or advertising and often has a team of staff writers who set a theme of one issue of the magazine so that all features and essays are thematically related within the issue. For example, a themed issue might cover philanthropy or living on a budget. 2

A scholarly article (a paper) is an academic work that is published in an academic journal. It contains original research results or reviews existing results. Such article will only be considered valid if it undergoes a process of peer review by one or more referees (who are academics in the same field) who check that the content of the paper is suitable for publication in the journal. A paper may undergo a series of reviews, revisions, and re-submissions before finally being accepted or rejected for publication. 1

1. Adapted from "Articles (publishing)" from Wikipedia.
2. Adapted from "What is a magazine article" from

Additional Resources

A Periodical

Periodical: A periodical publication is one that is published on a regular, ongoing (periodical) basis.  Generally most publications that are not books are periodicals.  Examples include magazines (published weekly or monthly), newspapers (published daily or weekly), and scholarly journals (published quarterly).

News and General Interest Periodicals: These include newspapers and magazines.  News and general interest periodicals rarely cite sources. Articles may be written by a member of the editorial staff, a scholar or a free lance writer. The author information is called a byline in news sources. The language of these publications is geared to any educated audience. There is no specialty assumed, only interest and a certain level of intelligence. They are generally published by commercial enterprises or individuals, although some emanate from specific professional organizations. The main purpose of periodicals in this category is to provide information, in a general manner, to a broad audience of concerned citizens.1

Popular: Popular periodicals come in many formats, although often slick and attractive in appearance with lots of color graphics (photographs, drawings, etc.).  Magazines are popular periodicals and the words "magazine" and "popular periodical" are virtually interchangeable. These publications do not cite sources in a bibliography. Information published in popular periodicals is often second or third hand and the original source is rarely mentioned. Articles are usually very short and written in simple language. The main purpose of popular periodicals is to entertain the reader, to sell products (their own or their advertisers), or to promote a viewpoint.1

Scholarly Journal / Journal: Scholarly journals are also called academic, peer-reviewed, or refereed journals. Strictly speaking, peer-reviewed (also called refereed) journals refer only to those scholarly journals that submit articles to several other scholars, experts, or academics (peers) in the field for review and comment. These reviewers must agree that the article represents properly conducted original research or writing before it can be published. 1

1. Adapted from "Distinguishing between scholarly and non-scholarly periodicals" from Cornell University Library

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