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Education (Early Childhood, Primary, Secondary, Health & Physical Ed.)

Subject for Education resources

Journals and journal articles

Journals and journal articles

Study at the university level requires you to locate, analyse, and critically use the scholarly literature in your discipline.  Journal articles are an essential part of that literature.  They will complement what you can find in books and will typically be more specific and more current. Use this section in this guide to learn about journals and journal articles.  Consult the Library databases link on the left for information on using the library's specialised databases to help you find and access this material. 

What is a journal, and what is a journal article -- and why use them?

In the academic context, a journal is a scholarly publication containing articles which report on current research, usually within a specific discipline or field of study or interest.  You may also see journals referred to as ‘periodicals’ or ‘serials’.

  • Journals are intended for an academic audience, not general readers as newspapers or magazines typically are.
  • As well as articles, they often contain book reviews and editorial content.
  • They are published regularly – e.g. monthly, quarterly.  Each publication of the journal that comes out is usually labelled as a numbered ‘issue’ and a year’s worth of ‘issues’ usually makes up a numbered ‘volume’.

The library provides access to a wide range of journals in Education.  Most are available in full text online.  You can consult their Tables of Contents electronically and browse them issue by issue, but it is usually most efficient to use a library database to search within them if you have a specific topic you are researching.  

An article in a journal will relate to the field of interest of that particular journal and will typically:

  • Include original research in that field
  • Focus on current developments in that field
  • Cite other works and provide a list of references used
  • Be authored by one or more experts or emerging researchers in the field, with relevant affiliations which they will state.

The articles in journals are often ‘peer-reviewed’ (or ‘refereed’), in order to assure the reader of aspects of their quality.  See the "What does 'peer reviewed' or 'refereed' mean?" box below for more information about this feature.

Most articles in journals are now searchable digitally at basic to very advanced levels.  See the Library databases link on the left for more information on these important tools.

How can I find journal articles?

If you know the title of a specific article that you want to read, you can use the Library Catalogue to search for it . Select Journal articles and then enter the article title within double quotation marks.  

If you are looking for articles on a particular topic that you are researching, you can also use the Library Catalogue via a Journal articles search to seek articles on that topic.  However, it can often be more efficient, and result in more targeted results, to take advantage of one or more of the specialised, high functioning, searchable databases of journal articles to which the library subscribes -- see the Library databases link on the left for more information about how to do this. 

What does 'peer-reviewed' or 'refereed' mean?

Your lecturer or supervisor may stipulate that your research must include 'peer-reviewed' (also known as 'refereed') articles.  These are scholarly articles that have undergone a stringent process of evaluation/review/scrutiny by researchers or subject specialists in the academic community  before being accepted for publication to ensure their academic standing.  It is a process aimed at a form of academic 'quality control'.  

Many databases permit you to limit your search to only 'peer-reviewed' material. 

If you need to confirm if a journal is peer-reviewed, look your journal title up in the Ulrichsweb global serials directory and check for this icon of a referee’s jersey beside the title   which indicates that it is peer-reviewed.  

Find journals and ejournals

Library catalogue: Search for journals and ejournals

What if I am on a web page asking for payment to view an article?

If you are prompted to pay to access an article, you may have found your way to a commercial publisher’s site. It is wise to check if the library provides free access to that article via one of our journal or database subscriptions.  To do this, you can use the instructions provided in the box called  "What if the database doesn't have full text for my article?" via the Library databases link on the left.