Journal articles are short papers written on a narrow topic area. They are part of larger issues called journals, which are published on a regular basis. Consequently they are usually more up-to-date than books.
Journal articles are normally very specific so you must know what you are looking for when searching for them. If your topic is still broad then stick with books initially until you narrow it down.
Many journal articles also go through the process of peer review. Watch the video in the box below to find out what peer review is and how it acts as an extra quality control step.
1. Read the abstract (overview) to check if it's relevant
2. Check the authority of the author
3. Are there any references?
4. Skim the paragraphs - look for your keywords
5. Is there a literature review (discussion of the literature already written) near the beginning?
6. Read the conclusion
7. If it looks ok and relevant you can then take your time over it in more detail
ACADEMIC - papers written by academics and checked for accuracy by other academics and the journal editor before publication [peer-reviewed]. They have formal sounding titles eg. Performing Ethos: an international journal of ethics in theatre & performance
NON-ACADEMIC / TRADE - contain opinion articles, news, interviews, job adverts. Usually glossy & highly visual eg. Future Music Magazine
The resources listed below are journal article databases. Each database searches thousands of journals at once with your keywords.
Each database covers a specific subject area/s. This means you will get less results from your search than Google Scholar, but the articles will be more relevant to your chosen topic.
If you are unsure which database would be the best to use, hover your cursor over the name and it will give you more information.
Use the search box below to search Google Scholar. Google Scholar is straightforward to use, and unlike regular Google will find scholarly material, including peer-reviewed journal articles.
They contain critical debate, analysis and case studies which you can comment upon and cite in your essays.
They help you to create an argument/point of view in your own writing. Citing the opinions of others in the text of your essay shows you have read the articles. Don't just reference them at the end! Ask your tutor for advice about the best journals to read in your subject field.
Document Supply can be used to obtain any journal article, book, report etc that you cannot get access to through the library.
Use the link on the homepage of Locate or apply here for the form.
Visit other universities to see the print version of an article. You can apply through a scheme called SCONUL Access.
You can also Google for any university library catalogue to check if they stock your journal.