Journals are a common way for researchers and scholars to communicate their ideas. You will sometimes hear journals referred to as periodicals. Smaller bits of research can be communicated (sometimes research conclusions are too short to justify being published in a book) and journal articles reach a wider audience than books.
A journal is a specific type of academic publication. Like magazines they are published regularly throughout the year. This may be e.g. monthly, biannually (twice a year), quarterly (January, April, July, October) and is referred to as a journal issue. Researchers like this because their research can appear much sooner when published in a journal (books take longer to produce).
Each journal issue contains a collection of articles (short pieces of written work). Articles are written by academic staff from universities and other research institutions. The articles support current research and teaching and will be useful to you during your studies.
As with books, on the front page or within the first few pages of the issue, there will be a list of contents. These may include articles, reviews, editorials and other short pieces of informative writing. Journals can be published online, as printed journals or sometimes available both ways.
This is an example of a journal that is only available online. This journal is available as open access so that anyone can read the contents.
Click on the cover to go to the journal
Location and accessing journal articles
Journals are carefully selected and most are paid for by the library through an ongoing subscription. This ensures students and staff have access to high quality international research.
To find the journals, you will need to search the library’s catalogue. The catalogue provides a listing of all the journal titles the library has available.
Often a range of journals can be searched through one interface, called a journal or literature database (this is covered in more detail in the next part of this section).
At university you will guided by your reading list and become familiar with key journal and articles which present research in our subject area. Reading lists are discussed later on in this section
- Published as issues during certain intervals throughout the year
- Issues contain several short pieces of writing called articles
- Written by academic researchers
- Content is backed up by research evidence
- Mostly accessed online
- Available through a library catalogue
This short video explains how to find journal articles using our library catalogue
Academic books and journals are subjected to peer review. Peer reviewed content is written by experts and reviewed by experts. It is an academic term for quality control. Peer reviewed means the content has been considered by subject specialists to be of a suitable academic standard for publication. Most of the materials referenced in your work will be peer reviewed.
To determine if a journal is peer reviewed:
- journal databases often have an option to return only peer reviewed content in a search
- look at the journal’s initial pages or web page to see if there is any information on the peer review process