Choosing the Right Magazines
You quite possibly buy magazines regularly. You might even subscribe to one or two. Depending on the degree to which your interests mesh with your research paper topic, you may already have on hand some magazine articles that could aid you in your research. Be aware that magazine articles generally don't cover issues in as much depth as do other types of sources. They often are written at a novice level, so they touch on a lot of general information without going into the details. They also tend to be slanted toward the writer's opinion. This is not always a bad thing for your purposes. You want to uncover different points of view that either support or oppose your own. Just be sure that you know what is fact and what is opinion. Despite these cautions, magazines are still great sources of tidbits that don't surface elsewhere.
Consumer magazines are the ones you probably read most. These are the ones sold at the grocery checkout counter, at the drugstore, and at the newsstand. They appeal to a wide audience of readers and deal with a surprising variety of subject matter. Some of these are general in nature; others are highly specialized. There are enough consumer magazines to fill entire stores, and it seems that every subject has at least a handful of magazines devoted to it.
Make sure you can differentiate among consumer magazines, trade magazines, and professional journals. The audiences are different, and therefore the material covered can take a different slant. Consumer magazines allow for a lot more interpretation and personal input from the writer, although facts are never modified.
With this profusion of magazines, it's likely that there is at least one related to your research topic, and probably more than one. An advantage that magazines have over books is that they often are published monthly, or at least quarterly, and sometimes even weekly. Each issue has many different articles, product reviews, letters, photos, and short fillers. They can run from thin publications barely larger than a newsletter to thick volumes containing more than a small book. That all adds up to a large number of potential articles related to your research topic.
Trade magazines are less well known, but that does not mean that there are fewer of them. Trade magazines are those published specifically for people in a particular trade or business. Do not confuse these with professional journals. Trade magazines are written in the same easy-to-read style as is a consumer magazine. The information in a trade magazine covers new developments in its field, more efficient ways of working, and profiles of interesting people or companies within the trade. There are magazines for trades as diverse as interior decorating, avionics, teaching, chemical engineering, and pharmaceuticals. With such a wide range of subjects, there should be a trade magazine applicable to your research paper topic.
Depending on your topic, you may be able to find the magazine you want at your local library. Larger magazine retailers carry many of the more popular trade magazines. If you know that a trade magazine is available for a certain subject but you can't find it anywhere, contact the related trade organization.