Comparative Analysis of Academic or Professional Periodicals

This project provides an opportunity to become familiar with the discourse community of your academic discipline. If you are not already aware of periodical sources of information related to your major or field of study, this assignment will acquaint you with at least one or two. If you have written a researched paper in high school in which you were required to use up-to-date information, you probably used news-stand publications--commercial magazines--to find information relevant to your topic. For instance, you might have used Psychology Today to research topics related to psychology. For a college psychology paper, however, it is more likely that you would be expected to use professional or academic periodicals, such as Journal of Applied Psychology or Journal of Clinical Psychology. In this assignment, you will go beyond commercial, "news stand" periodicals and start to become familiar with professional or academic publications.

For this project, you will have several choices as to approach. You may compare an academic or professional journal in your field of study to a news stand magazine which targets a similar audience, comparing a publication which is probably known to you with one that is probably new to you. You may compare two academic journals.  You may compare two professional journals.  Or you may compare an academic journal with a professional journal in the same field.  These may be print publications or full-text, on-line publications.

Your primary audience for the essay will be other first- and second-year college students majoring in your field of study. One of the objectives of the essay is to describe the intended audience of each publication (i.e., is it geared to the general public, students of that academic discipline, academic theoreticians, or professionals working in that field?) The purpose is to describe, through critical analysis, potential sources of information to others majoring in your field of study.  You will need to read or preview several issues of the titles you select so as to get a good overview of the publications.  The length of the paper will be approximately 700 to 1000 words. The essay will include a summary of at least one article from each of the two publications; the articles should exemplify what the periodicals are about and who the target audiences of the publications are. The paper will be correctly documented following MLA research paper conventions.

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