Periodical literature

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The cover of an issue of the open-access journal PLOS Biology, published monthly by the Public Library of Science PLoS Biology cover April 2009.svg
The cover of an issue of the open-access journal PLOS Biology , published monthly by the Public Library of Science

A periodical literature (also called a periodical publication or simply a periodical) is a published work that appears in a new edition on a regular schedule. The most familiar example is a newspaper, but a magazine or a journal are also examples of periodicals. These publications cover a wide variety of topics, from academic, technical, trade, and general interest to leisure and entertainment.


Articles within a periodical are usually organized around a single main subject or theme and include a title, date of publication, author(s), and brief summary of the article. A periodical typically contains an editorial section that comments on subjects of interest to its readers. Other common features are reviews of recently published books and films, columns that express the author's opinions about various topics, and advertisements.

A periodical is a serial publication. A book series is also a serial publication, but is not typically called a periodical. An encyclopedia or dictionary is also a book, and might be called a serial publication if it is published in many different editions over time.

Volumes and issues

Periodicals are typically published and referenced by volume and issue (also known as issue number or number). Volume typically refers to the number of years the publication has been circulated, and issue refers to how many times that periodical has been published during that year. For example, the April 2011 publication of a monthly magazine first published in 2002 would be listed as, "volume 10, issue 4". Roman numerals are sometimes used in reference to the volume number. [1]

When citing a work in a periodical, there are standardized formats such as The Chicago Manual of Style . In the latest edition of this style, a work with volume number 17 and issue number 3 may be written as follows:

Sometimes, periodicals are numbered in absolute numbers instead of volume-relative numbers, typically since the start of the publication. In rare cases, periodicals even provide both: a relative issue number and an absolute number. [2] There is no universal standard for indicating absolute numbers, but often a '#' is used.

The first issue of a periodical is sometimes also called a premiere issue or charter issue. [3] The first issue may be preceded by dummy or zero issues. A last issue is sometimes called the final issue. [4] In comic books, a first issue will often include a first appearance by a new character, although a first appearance can happen in other issues as well.


Periodicals are often characterized by their period (or frequency) of publication. [5] [6] This information often helps librarians make decisions about whether or not to include certain periodicals in their collection. [7] It also helps scholars decide which journal to submit their paper to. [8]

QuinquenniallyOnce per 5 years 15 per year
QuadrienniallyOnce per 4 years14 per year
TrienniallyOnce per 3 years13 per year
BienniallyOnce per 2 years12 per year
AnnuallyOnce per year1 per year
Semiannually, BiannuallyTwice per year2 per year
TriannuallyThrice per year3 per year
QuarterlyEvery quarter 4 per year
BimonthlyEvery 2 months 6 per year
Semi-quarterlyTwice per quarter8 per year
MonthlyEvery month12 per year
Semi-monthlyTwice per month24 per year
Biweekly, FortnightlyEvery two weeks 26 per year
WeeklyEvery week52 per year
Semi-weeklyTwice per week104 per year
DailyOnce per business day Varies
Cover of Science in School magazine Cover of Science in School 32.jpg
Cover of Science in School magazine

Periodicals are often classified as either popular or scholarly. Popular periodicals are usually magazines (e.g., Ebony and Esquire ). Scholarly journals are most commonly found in libraries and databases. Examples are The Journal of Psychology and the Journal of Social Work .

Trade magazines are also examples of periodicals. They are written for an audience of professionals in the world. As of the early 1990s, there were over 6,000 academic, business, scientific, technical, and trade publications in the United States alone. [10]

Indefinite vs. part-publication

These examples are related to the idea of an indefinitely continuing cycle of production and publication: magazines plan to continue publishing, not to stop after a predetermined number of editions. By contrast, a novel might be published in monthly parts, a method revived after the success of The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens. [11] This approach is called part-publication, particularly when each part is from a whole work, or a serial, for example in comic books. It flourished during the nineteenth century, for example with Abraham John Valpy's Delphin Classics, and was not restricted to fiction. [12]

Standard numbers

The International Standard Serial Number (ISSN) is to serial publications (and by extension, periodicals) what the International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is to books: a standardized reference number.


Postal services often carry periodicals at a preferential rate; for example, Second Class Mail in the United States only applies to publications issued at least quarterly. [13]

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Magazine</span> Publication that is typically distributed at a regular interval

A magazine is a periodical publication, generally published on a regular schedule, containing a variety of content. They are generally financed by advertising, purchase price, prepaid subscriptions, or by a combination of the three.

Computer magazines are about computers and related subjects, such as networking and the Internet. Most computer magazines offer advice, some offer programming tutorials, reviews of the latest technologies, and advertisements.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Publication</span> Content made available to the general public

To publish is to make content available to the general public. While specific use of the term may vary among countries, it is usually applied to text, images, or other audio-visual content, including paper. Publication means the act of publishing, and also any copies issued for public distribution.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Glossary of library and information science</span>

This page is a glossary of library and information science.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Academic journal</span> Peer-reviewed scholarly periodical

An academic journal or scholarly journal is a periodical publication in which scholarship relating to a particular academic discipline is published. Academic journals serve as permanent and transparent forums for the presentation, scrutiny, and discussion of research. They nearly universally require peer review or other scrutiny from contemporaries competent and established in their respective fields. Content typically takes the form of articles presenting original research, review articles, or book reviews. The purpose of an academic journal, according to Henry Oldenburg, is to give researchers a venue to "impart their knowledge to one another, and contribute what they can to the Grand design of improving natural knowledge, and perfecting all Philosophical Arts, and Sciences."

The bibliographical definition of an edition is all copies of a book printed from substantially the same setting of type, including all minor typographical variants.

A monograph is a specialist written work or exhibition on one subject or one aspect of a usually scholarly subject, often by a single author or artist. Although a monograph can be created by two or more individuals, its text remains a coherent whole and it keeps being an in-depth academic work that presents original research, analysis, and arguments. As a focused, in-depth and specialised written work in which one or more authors develop a uniform and continuous argument or analysis over the course of the book, a monograph is essentially different from an edited collection of articles. In an edited collection, a number of original and separate scholarly contributions by different authors are edited and compiled into one book by one or more academic editors.

The Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge (SDUK) was founded in London in 1826, mainly at the instigation of Whig MP Henry Brougham, with the object of publishing information to people who were unable to obtain formal teaching or who preferred self-education. It was a largely Whig organisation, and published inexpensive texts intended to adapt scientific and similarly high-minded material for the rapidly-expanding reading public over twenty years until it was disbanded in 1846.

<i>Tankōbon</i> Japanese term for a complete book or single manga volume

Tankōbon is the Japanese term for a book that is not part of an anthology or corpus. The term is also used in reference to individual volumes of a manga series: most series first appear as individual chapters in a weekly or monthly manga anthology with other works before being published as tankōbon volumes containing several chapters each.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Penny dreadful</span> Sensational Victorian weekly story papers

Penny dreadfuls were cheap popular serial literature produced during the 19th century in the United Kingdom. The pejorative term is roughly interchangeable with penny horrible, penny awful, and penny blood. The term typically referred to a story published in weekly parts of 8 to 16 pages, each costing one penny. The subject matter of these stories was typically sensational, focusing on the exploits of detectives, criminals, or supernatural entities. First published in the 1830s, penny dreadfuls featured characters such as Sweeney Todd, Dick Turpin, Varney the Vampire, and Spring-heeled Jack.

Annual publications, more often simply called annuals, are periodical publications appearing regularly once per year. Although exact definitions may vary, types of annuals include: calendars and almanacs, directories, yearbooks, annual reports, proceedings and transactions and literary annuals. A weekly or monthly publication may produce an Annual featuring similar materials to the regular publication. Some encyclopedias have published annual supplements that essentially summarize the news of the past year, similar to some newspaper yearbooks.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Partwork</span> Written publication released as a series of issues

A partwork is a written publication released as a series of planned magazine-like issues over a period of time. Issues are typically released on a weekly, fortnightly or monthly basis, and often a completed set is designed to form a reference work on a particular topic.

In publishing and library and information science, the term serial is applied to materials "in any medium issued under the same title in a succession of discrete parts, usually numbered and appearing at regular or irregular intervals with no predetermined conclusion."

CODEN – according to ASTM standard E250 – is a six-character, alphanumeric bibliographic code that provides concise, unique and unambiguous identification of the titles of periodicals and non-serial publications from all subject areas.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Monographic series</span> Continuous collective works of writings

Monographic series are scholarly and scientific books released in successive volumes, each of which is structured like a separate book or scholarly monograph.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Serial (literature)</span> Publishing format by which a single literary work is presented in contiguous instalments

In literature, a serial is a printing or publishing format by which a single larger work, often a work of narrative fiction, is published in smaller, sequential instalments. The instalments are also known as numbers, parts, fascicules or fascicles, and may be released either as separate publications or within sequential issues of a periodical publication, such as a magazine or newspaper.

<i>Electrician and Mechanic</i> American science and technology magazine

Electrician and Mechanic was an American science and technology magazine published from 1890 to January 1914 when it merged with Modern Electrics to become Modern Electrics & Mechanics. In July 1914, incorporated with Popular Electricity and the World's Advance and the title became Popular Electricity and Modern Mechanics. The new publisher, Modern Publishing, began a series of magazine mergers and title changes so numerous that librarians began to complain. In October 1915 the title became Popular Science Monthly and the magazine is still published under that name today.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Volume (bibliography)</span> Book or journal, often in a series

A volume is a physical book. It may be printed or handwritten. The term is commonly used to identify a single book that is part of a larger collection. Volumes are typically identified sequentially with Roman or Arabic numerals, e.g. "volume III" or "volume 3", commonly abbreviated to "Vol.".

Perceptions was an LGBT news magazine which began publication in 1983 in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.


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  2. "Front matter". Dr. Dobb's Journal of Computer Calisthenics & Orthodontia . Vol. 3, no. 2. People's Computer Company. February 1978. ISBN   0-8104-5490-4. #22. Retrieved 2020-02-10.
  3. "PC: The Independent Guide To IBM Computers". PC . Vol. 1, no. 1. Software Communications, Inc. February–March 1982. pp. front matter, 9. Premiere/Charter issue. Retrieved 2020-02-10.
  4. Thompson, David J., ed. (May 1990). "Micro Cornucopia - The Micro Technical Journal" (PDF). Micro Cornucopia . Around the bend. No. 53. Bend, Oregon, US: Micro Cornucopia Inc. pp. front matter. ISSN   0747-587X . Retrieved 2020-02-11.
  5. "Frequency of Publication codes".
  6. "Frequencies".
  7. Dickinson, Kelly; Boyd, Bryanna; Gunningham, Regan (29 November 2010). "Reference Analysis as an Aid in Collection Development: A Study of Master of Architecture Theses at Dalhousie University". Dalhousie Journal of Interdisciplinary Management. 5 (1). doi: 10.5931/djim.v5i1.48 .
  8. "Where to submit your manuscript". How to Write and Publish a Scientific Paper (7th ed.). Cambridge University Press. 7 June 2012. p. 33. ISBN   9781107670747.
  9. "Cover of Science in School 32" . Retrieved 13 July 2015.
  10. Blake, Gary & Bly, Robert W. (1993). The Elements of Technical Writing. New York: Macmillan Publishers. p. 113. ISBN   0020130856.
  11. "The Novel". Aspects of the Victorian Book via The British Library.
  12. Eliot, Simon & Rose, Jonathan (2007). A Companion to the History of the Book . p.  297. ISBN   9781405127653.[ full citation needed ]
  13. "Second Class Mail". Barron's Business Dictionary via