Serials, also known as periodicals are defined as published works appearing in a new addition, on a regular basis, following a standard schedule. The concept stems from the idea of a continuous cycle of publications with no end – differing to that of a novel, which may be released in four parts, periodically but not continuously.
Perhaps the most commonly known example is the newspaper. Newspapers are serials that are published all over the world – most often appearing on a daily or a weekly basis. Some newspapers have various publications which they produce on a daily and weekly basis.
Additionally, serials and periodical publications will also take the form of magazines. Magazines will most often appear on a weekly, monthly or even quarterly basis. Magazines are second only to newspapers in the world of periodicals.
“Popular” and “Scholarly”
While the most common serials are classified as “popular” and are read as newspapers and magazines, a range of other publications can also be categorized as serial publications; serials known as “scholarly publications”. Some examples of these include literary journals, newsletters, learned journals and yearbooks. In these kind of serials, readers will always find what is called an International Standard Serial Number (ISSN) which is a term used to identify for a standardized reference number – exactly like what the The International Standart Book Number (ISBN) is to books.
Historically, the first appearance of a serial publication was in the form of the printed newspaper and recorded in Germany, in the late 1400’s, when the latest news was printed on a continuous basis, in the form of news pamphlets or broadside.
A specific set of terms has arisen, describing how serials are published and referenced. “Volume” is a word used to convey the number of years the specific publication has been in circulation. “Issue” is another commonly used terms and describes the amount of times the specific periodical has been published in that year.