Skip to Main Content

Access to HE and Foundation Pathways Programme


Journals are basically academic magazines published on a regular basis, for example, weekly, monthly or quarterly and are subject specific.

Journals are generally organised by volume, and have multiple issues within that volume, each with a different number.  This information helps to identify different issues, by looking at the year, the volume and the issue number. Each issue containing a number of articles written by different authors. 

Journals are extremely important for keeping up-to-date with the latest theory, research and practice in your subject area. The library has access to thousands of journals to support you during your studies.  Most of our journals are accessed online, although we do still have some in print, and you can use our discovery platform Library Search to find out what articles are available for your topic/subject. 

At university, you will be expected to use academic journals in your assignments as the articles and information in them tend to be more credible and reliable. You may also hear journals referred to as popular magazines, or trade magazines however there are important differences between them.

Watch this video to find out more.

Once you have watched the video, test your knowledge of types of journals with our quick quiz.

Journal articles are written about specific, and often very niche, topics. They are shorter then books and contain more up to date research.  Articles are published in issues or parts of journals with each issue/part containing a number of articles written by different authors (see previous tab). In each journal issue, either on the front page or a few pages in, you will find a table of contents (TOC) which will list all the articles that are in that issue.  

In addition to the article, you will usually see the following information:

  • Journals details = the full publication details of the article which you need for your citation and referencing. These details include authors, date of publication, title of article, title of the journal it is from, volume and issue numbers, page numbers.
  • Abstract = a short summary of the article giving the key findings and conclusions. Usually no longer than a paragraph. Reading the abstract can help you decide whether the article is useful for your assignment or not.
  • DOI number = this is a string of numbers, letters and symbols that are used permanently to identify a particular article.  It helps you to locate an article as it is unique to that article and does not change.

When searching for literature you may hear the term 'peer review' or you might be asked to find and use peer reviewed articles in your assignments. But what does peer review mean? The peer review process is something articles go through prior to being published in a journal. When an author submits their article it gets sent to 'peer reviewers' - subject experts/researchers/practitioners in the same field - who assess and evaluate the research conducted for validity, accuracy and originality. 

Then the article either gets accepted for publication, the author has to make revisions or the article is rejected. The peer review process is a mark of quality and offers assurance that the information in the article is reliable and credible to use in your academic work.

Have a look at this video to find out more.

There are several tools to help you search for journals and journal articles:

  • Library Search - this will help you find articles across a broad range of subjects and is really useful when you aren't sure which journals or resources are best for your topic.  Check out our using the simple search guide for help, how to videos and information about finding articles with Library Search.
  • Subject-specific databases - the library subscribes to many subject specific journal databases for the pathway you are studying. To find out which journal databases are recommended for your subject take a look at the libguides homepage and navigate to the subject area you need, then click on the Key Subject Resources link.
  • Browzine.  This is an online resource and works as a catalogue of all our eJournals. You can use BrowZine to discover titles within your subject area. Have a look at our Browzine page for more information.
  • Google Scholar is a free search engine that searches across a range of academic material including peer-reviewed papers, theses, books, preprints, abstracts and technical reports. If the article has been cited by others, a 'cited by' link will be part of the record. Clicking on that link will take you to the list of articles that cited the item in question.  Google Scholar can be a useful research tool, but it is important to bear several things in mind. 

    • Not all material will necessarily be peer-reviewed. There is no editorial process within Google Scholar, so you need to be careful what you rely upon.

    • Some articles may not appear as they do in the final published work. Preprints and drafts are all indexed by Google Scholar as well as open-access final articles.

Print journals

As well as the extensive collections of eJournals and articles you have access to online, the Library also holds some journals in a printed format.  This is usually where individual journals are not currently published online although sometimes you may find we have both print and online copies of journals. You will also find print copies of trade magazines in the library often accompanied by free-to-access websites.

All print journals are listed on Library Search and the records will show which site they are located at and how long we have kept the title for