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

Periodical literature (also called a periodical publication or simply a periodical) is a category of serial publications that appear in a new edition on a regular schedule. [1] The most familiar example is the magazine, typically published weekly, monthly, or quarterly. Other examples of periodicals are newsletters, academic journals and yearbooks. [1] Newspapers, often published daily or weekly, are, strictly speaking, a separate category of serial. [2] [3]


Volumes and issues

Perodicals 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. [4] 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. [5] The first issue may be preceded by dummy or zero issues. A last issue is sometimes called the final issue. [6]


Periodicals are often characterized by their period (or frequency) of publication. [7] [8] This information often helps librarian make decisions about whether or not to include certain periodicals in their collection. [9] It also helps scholars decide which journal to submit their paper to. [10]

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. [12]

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. A novel, in contrast, might be published in monthly parts, a method revived after the success of The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens. [13] 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. [14]

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. [15]

See also

Related Research Articles

Magazine Publication typically published and distributed at a regular interval

A magazine is a periodical publication which is printed in gloss-coated and matte paper or electronically published. Magazines are generally published on a regular schedule and contain a variety of content. They are generally financed by advertising, by a purchase price, by prepaid subscriptions, or a combination of the three.

This page is a glossary of library and information science.

Academic publishing is the subfield of publishing which distributes academic research and scholarship. Most academic work is published in academic journal article, book or thesis form. The part of academic written output that is not formally published but merely printed up or posted on the Internet is often called "grey literature". Most scientific and scholarly journals, and many academic and scholarly books, though not all, are based on some form of peer review or editorial refereeing to qualify texts for publication. Peer review quality and selectivity standards vary greatly from journal to journal, publisher to publisher, and field to field.

Academic journal peer-reviewed periodical relating to a particular academic discipline

An academic 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 are usually peer-reviewed or refereed. Content typically takes the form of articles presenting original research, review articles, and 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."

A monograph is a specialist work of writing or exhibition on a single subject or an aspect of a subject, often by a single author or artist, and usually on a scholarly subject.

Penny dreadful Sensational Victorian weekly story papers

Penny dreadfuls were cheap popular serial literature produced during the nineteenth 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, 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 and Varney the Vampire. The Guardian described penny dreadfuls as “Britain’s first taste of mass-produced popular culture for the young.”

Annual publications, more often called simply 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.


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."

The term serials crisis has become a common shorthand to describe the chronic subscription cost increases of many serial publications such as scholarly journals. The prices of these institutional or library subscriptions have been rising much faster than the Consumer Price Index for several decades, while the funds available to the libraries have remained static or have declined in real terms. As a result, academic and research libraries have regularly canceled serial subscriptions to accommodate price increases of the remaining current subscriptions.

<i>Railway Gazette International</i> magazine

Railway Gazette International is a monthly business journal covering the railway, metro, light rail and tram industries worldwide. Available by annual subscription, the magazine is read in over 140 countries by transport professionals and decision makers, railway managers, engineers, consultants and suppliers to the rail industry. A mix of technical, commercial and geographical feature articles, plus the regular monthly news pages, cover developments in all aspects of the rail industry, including infrastructure, operations, rolling stock and signalling.

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.

Serial (literature) Publishing format by which a single literary work is presented in contiguous installments

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

A periodicals librarian or serials librarian is a librarian who works in the specialized area of periodical literature. A periodicals librarian can have a variety of duties, but generally work specifically with the acquisition, collection development, organization, preservation, and sometimes cataloging of periodicals. Whereas many periodicals librarians previously worked only with periodicals in print format, many now manage electronic periodicals also. While a periodicals librarians may work in any type of library, including academic, public, government, law, medical, or corporate libraries, a significant number work in larger public and academic libraries. In other libraries where there is no librarian assigned specifically to periodicals, one or more librarians may perform the duties of a periodicals librarian along with other duties.

The New Monthly Magazine was a British monthly magazine published from 1814 to 1884. It was founded by Henry Colburn and published by him through to 1845.

<i>Electrician and Mechanic</i>

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.

Volume (bibliography) Book in a series, typically identified sequentially (e.g. Volume 3)

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 3" or "volume III", commonly abbreviated to "Vol.".

A bibliographic index is a bibliography intended to help find a publication. Citations are usually listed by author and subject in separate sections, or in a single alphabetical sequence under a system of authorized headings collectively known as controlled vocabulary, developed over time by the indexing service. Indexes of this kind are issued in print periodical form, online, or both. Since the 1970s they are typically generated as output from bibliographic databases.

<i>Acadiensis</i> Academic journal

Acadiensis: Journal of the History of the Atlantic Region is a semi-annual peer-reviewed academic journal covering the history of Atlantic Canada. The current editors-in-chief are Suzanne Morton and Donald Wright. It is published by the Department of History at the University of New Brunswick, with articles in either English or French. The name Acadiensis originated with an earlier periodical with the same name, a general interest quarterly magazine for the Maritime provinces, with an emphasis on local history. It was published in Saint John, New Brunswick by David Russell Jack from 1901 to 1908 but failed due to insufficient financial support.


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