Sources available to you as you conduct research will vary quite a bit in purpose, audience, and reliability. One important distinguishing characteristic is whether a periodical is considered popular or academic/scholarly. You will need to learn how to tell them apart, as well as determine which type is more appropriate for your information needs.
McMaster Libraries. How Library Stuff Works: Scholarly vs Popular Sources. YouTube. Creative Commons Attribution license (reuse allowed).
All of us have seen these at one time or another. Think about the magazines you find in grocery, drug, and book stores. In popular magazines, you will generally find lots of advertisements and articles illustrated with several pictures. Popular magazines are written for the general public, usually for entertainment, general information, or keeping up with current events.
Popular magazines are normally written and edited by professional journalists. The authors who write the articles are usually not subject experts, but have hopefully done adequate and appropriate research in preparing the article. The editor has final say on what gets printed in the magazine.
Academic/scholarly journals are written for students, faculty and professionals, and usually contain high quality articles. Research results are generally published in these types of periodicals. Limited advertising is geared toward the specific audience that reads the journal. Articles only have pictures if they are important to the content, not for decoration. Charts and graphs are common for presenting data.
Articles in academic/scholarly journals are written by subject experts, as opposed to journalists that write for popular magazines. The editor who makes the final decision on what is published also has expertise in the domain covered by the journal.
Peer-Reviewed Journals: Peer review adds an additional level of reliability. Not only are these articles written by subject experts, they are also reviewed by other subject experts for quality before being accepted for publication.
McMaster Libraries. How Library Stuff Works: Peer Review. YouTube. Creative Commons Attribution license (reuse allowed)
Trade Magazines are usually published by a professional organization for its members and others in the field.
Trade Magazines are generally written and edited by practitioners in a field.