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Finding Journal Articles

Getting Started

This guide is primarily for students who need to find scholarly journal articles for their assignments. It explains what scholarly journal articles are, and outlines how to search for them in the Library Catalogue and Databases.

What are scholarly journal articles?

Scholarly journal articles are written by experts in a particular field of study. Their purpose is to keep others interested in the field up to date with the most recent research and findings. More so than books, scholarly journal articles are where to turn if you wish to discover the recent thinking for a specific discipline.

Journal articles are published in journals, essentially magazines, but for an academic audience. A journal will be published multiple times per year and is organised by volumes (and sometimes issues).

What are peer reviewed articles?

Peer reviewed articles, also known as refereed articles, are scholarly journal articles that have been reviewed and edited by experts in that field before being accepted for publishing. Usually the author is unknown to the reviewer and so the article is accepted solely on its merit and not on the reputation of the author. Thus it is more likely to be a highly rigorous and credible article. 

Why use scholarly journal articles?

Scholarly articles are excellent sources of information for your assignments because they provide:

  • Authoritative information written by experts in the field
  • Verifiable and reliable evidence for claims in the form of a bibliography or reference list
  • Current information. As they are often the place where research in a field is first published, the information in journal articles is usually more up-to-date than the information in books
  • Specialised information which focuses on a specific aspect of a topic.

How to identify a scholarly journal article

Most scholarly journal articles have the the following features:

  • Names of authors and their affiliations. This information will enable you to confirm that the authors are experts in the field. 
  • Abstract. The abstract is a brief summary of the article written by the authors. The abstract will help you to determine if the article is relevant for your topic.
  • Keywords. These keywords are assigned to the article by the authors. It can be useful to consider adding these keywords as alternative search terms.  
  • Reference list. When you find a recent relevant article it can be useful to follow up the references to find further information.