Trade publication articles can be of use in a variety of situations. Following are some of the ways these publications can be helpful.
Recent Developments ‐‐ Trade publications are excellent places to look to keep up with recent developments in an industry, occupation, or profession. While these publications might not directly provide detailed research findings, they are extremely useful for keeping up with recent developments in their targeted fields.
Career or Job Opportunities ‐‐ Many times, job advertisements will appear in trade publications. Public universities in the state of Florida, for example, routinely advertise open faculty positions in at least a couple of publications that target readers within specific fields. For example, when the library has an opening for a faculty position, one of the places it might advertise is the profession's trade magazine, American Libraries. Many other trade publications routinely run advertisements for job openings of interest to their readers.
Conference Announcements ‐‐ Every professional association will hold yearly and sometimes twice‐yearly conferences where their members will share ideas about the profession. Often times these conferences are announced in the association's trade publication.
Product Advertisements ‐‐ Advertisements in trade publications tend to be for products and services that are specific to the profession which can be helpful to practitioners who are looking for alternatives to the products that they are currently using or for newer, better products that can assist them in better serving their clientele.
Editorials and Letters to the Editor ‐‐ Editorials will reflect current issues and concerns within a profession. These could be useful to a researcher looking for "hot" topics that could be further researched in professional journals. Once an editorial appears, almost always the publication's readers will write letters addressing issues raised in the editorial, so a researcher can follow up on the positions taken by the editorial staff and look at the professional community's responses as an even better means for assessing what is important to the profession.
Here are some considerations when assessing a trade article:
The type of trade publication ‐‐ Trade publications have a particular focus and target a specific profession or trade. While the focus of many trade publications will be obvious from their titles, some may be hard to distinguish. You may want to review any descriptions of the journal to make sure it covers what you need.
Audience ‐‐ To whom is the article targeted? This means, determine who/what is the focus of the publication. Some trade publications might be directed more toward management in a profession than to practitioners. Understanding something of the intended audience will help a researcher determine if the article is appropriate for what he/she is researching.
Authorship ‐‐ Many trade publication articles are written by staff writers who work for the publications. Some articles might be contributed by other writers not employed by the publication. Editorial and analytical pieces included in a trade publication will likely be contributed by one or more of the editorial staff. While not all articles provide authors' names, many do. A researcher can easily check to see what other articles the author has written by scanning a library database. Knowing more about the author will help the researcher understand more about the article under consideration.
Article date ‐‐ Is the article's date of concern? In most cases, the answer will be "yes." Since trade publications are often used to find up‐to‐date information about developments within a profession or to help in a job search, it will be very important to retrieve the most recent articles possible.
Trade Articles. (2023). University of North Florida Library. https://libguides.unf.edu/lisresourcetypes/tradepublications