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Journals: how to find and use journal articles: Introduction

What are journal articles? Where can you find journals online and in the Library? How can you find a known article or articles on a topic?

What are journal articles?

Journals are an important source of information for academic study and research. Journal articles often provide more up-to-date or detailed information than a textbook. You may hear journals sometimes referred to as 'periodicals', 'serials', or 'magazines'.

Journals may be in electronic (ejournal) or print format.

Traditionally, printed journals are published in issues (or parts) throughout the year and at the end of a year these parts may be bound into a single volume. Within each issue are individual articles on different topics, each by a separate author.

Although many journals are now accessed electronically, this traditional form of publishing in issues and volumes still affects the way articles are organised online and the way they are referenced.


Understanding a reference to a journal article

You may see references to journal articles in reading lists or in reference lists in books, journal articles and other academic papers.

The exact form that a reference takes will depend on the referencing style the author is using. However, a reference to a journal article will usually comprise: the author(s), the year of publication, the title of the article, the title of the journal, the volume (and sometimes the issue) the article appears in, and the page the article starts (and sometimes ends). For example:

Convery, A. (2014) 'Devolution and the limits of Tory statecraft: the Conservative Party in coalition in Scotland and Wales'. Parliamentary Affairs, 67(1), pp.25-44.

Reference to journal article in Harvard (Strathclyde) style
Convery, A. (2014) 'Devolution and the limits of Tory statecraft: the Conservative Party in coalition in Scotland and Wales'. Parliamentary Affairs, 67 (1), pp.25-44.
Author(s)  Year Article title Journal title Volume Issue Pages

Traditionally, this is information you would use to find the article on the shelves of a library. You can still use this information to find an article online.

Peer-reviewed journals

Articles in peer-reviewed journals are subject to a process of academic evaluation designed to maintain standards of quality in research. Database services often provide an option to limit results to peer-reviewed journals.

Peer-reviewed articles are generally regarded as being of higher academic quality than non-peer-reviewed articles.

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