Using journals

Articles published in journals and periodicals can be a great source of information for your research.

There are many different types of journals, including:

    • peer-reviewed journals, also known as scholarly and academic journals, in which articles are reviewed and approved by subject-matter experts (eg The Medical Journal of Australia and The English Historical Review)
    • trade journals for a specific industry, such as advertising or photography (eg Truckin' Life and Camera)
    • magazines (eg Wheels and Woman’s Day)

Peer-reviewed journals

Scholarly or scientific articles published in academic journals generally focus on a specific aspect of a subject or piece of research. They are written by recognised experts in the field, and include the authors' credentials.

Journals may sometimes publish a themed issue (eg, heart disease), while others will cover a mix of topics. As most journals publish several issues per year, they can be a great way to find the latest research findings. A book might be more detailed, but the research contained within it is static and can become out of date.

Most newer journals are available both online and in print. You may find that older journals have not yet been digitised.

Research databases

Instead of flicking through individual journals to find an article, you can search across thousands of articles at once by using online research databases. An online database is a website that hosts thousands of journals, magazines and newspapers.

When researching a topic, it can be useful to search multiple databases as they will each have a different combination of journals, magazines and newspapers.

Some databases will provide the full article, which you can download, print or read online.

Other databases will provide you with a summary of the article, which can help you work out if it will be useful to your research.

If the full article is not in the database you’re looking at, you may find it in other databases or in hard copy at a library.

Wire-framed spectacles lying on top of an open magazine on a table

Things to remember
  • Journals are a great way to find the latest research on a topic
  • You can use databases to search across thousands of journal articles at a time

Now let's take a look at free journal databases.


Last modified: Friday, 31 March 2017, 11:11 AM