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Partner Students: What is a Journal?

What are journal articles?

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.
Journal articles are a great resource to use. They will cover more specific topics and go into more detail than a textbook. They usually contain more up-to-date and cutting edge research than books.
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 a an extra quality control step.

Understanding the journal peer-review process

Why should I use academic journal articles?

Academic articles contain original research, critical debate, analysis and case studies which you can comment upon and cite in your essays.
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 the best journals to read in your subject field.

How do I read an academic article?

1. Read the abstract (overview) to check if it's relevant

2. Check the authority of the author

3. Skim the paragraphs - look for your keywords

4. Is there a literature review?  (Discussion of the literature already written and useful to see who are the key writers on your topic.)

5. Are there any references you can investigate later?

6. Read the conclusion

7. If it looks okay and relevant you can then take your time over it in more detail