Scholarly Journals: The Cover

Collage of cover images of various scholarly journals.


The cover can often tell you at a glance if the journal is scholarly or popular. Even online journals may have images of the cover.

You see, popular journals are sold by subscription, but even more are sold in individual issues purchased at a magazine stand. Therefore, covers of popular magazines are designed to grab your attention and interest:

  • They usually have full-colour photographs and headlines that pop.
  • They often highlight one or more specific articles, to make you want to buy a copy.
  • They are colourful and exciting, even sensationalizing their content.

Here are some images of popular magazine covers. What words or images jump out at you?

Cover images of popular journals.

Follow this link to see even more images of popular magazine covers from a site that offers them for sale.


Scholarly journals, by comparison, are usually more low-key:

  • the cover may be the same for each issue;
  • sometimes the table of contents is listed on the front cover, but in a way that informs you of the contents rather than drawing your attention to a particular article;
  • if there is a photograph or artwork on the cover, it's relevant to the subject matter, and not sensational.

The heading at the top of this page shows the covers of scholarly journals. Take a look at the Elsevier's ScienceDirect website to see other images of scholarly journal covers. (Click on titles to see images.)


Compare the two columns in this chart and look for differences between popular covers and scholarly covers.
If you like, follow the link to see more about the journal. They're all educational and informative, but they're not all scholarly.

Popular Magazine Covers Scholarly Journal Covers
Covers: Popular Magazines Vs. Scholarly Journals

Image of the cover of Environment

E - The Environmental Magazine

Image of the cover of Environment and Planning

Environment and Planning

Image of the cover of Time magazine.


Image of the cover of Applied Economics

Applied Economics

Image of the cover of National Geographic

National Geographic

Image of the cover of Applied Geography

Applied Geography


Next: Journal Publisher.