Journal articles

Journal articles will add depth and detail to your research. Often peer reviewed, and published regularly throughout the year, they provide quality up-to-date theories and research on any given topic.

Either through reading lists or from your tutor, you may be directed to read specific articles. Otherwise, you will expected to independently source journal content for your academic work. This page will look at both:

  • finding the full text from a reference, and
  • searching for journal articles 

Before and during your search:

  • be clear about what is being asked of you for your assessment
  • be clear about your existing knowledge, and identify any gaps
  • identify any questions you need to answer, and identify any new questions that arise during your research

Reading a journal article

Some subject areas require more reading than others, so always think about prioritising your reading, especially if you need to read large amounts of information. Be smart about what you choose to read, and how you read it. See reading for more information, but some quick tips to get you started with journal articles:

  • Read the abstract - if it doesn't address your topic, or answer your questions, move on.
  • Read the introduction and conclusion - if it doesn't address your topic, or answer your questions, move on.
  • Scan through the headings to get a feel for the content; maybe read the opening sentence in each section.
  • Only at this point decide whether you need to read the whole article, and how closely you need to read it. See Reading.
  • Remember, most articles are either available online, or as PDFs - do a quick keyword search within the article to take you to the most relevant bits.

These things might sound obvious, but they will all help you decide quickly if an item is relevant, and which bits moreso. Remember, note-taking will help you retain information and organise your thoughts.

Finding the full text

For example, you already have a reference and you're trying to find the full-text of the following:

Loes, C.N., Salisbury, M.H. and Pascarella, E.T. (2015) ‘Student perceptions of effective instruction and the development of critical thinking: a replication and extension’, Higher Education, 69(5), pp. 823-838. doi: 10.1007/s10734-014-9807-0.

1st choice - LibrarySearch
2nd choice - Google
Is there anywhere else I can search?
Search tips for finding full-text

Searching for articles

Once you've figured what you're looking for, knowing where to search will help you search effectively and efficiently. When searching for journal articles by keywords, the three main sources to use are:

Library Resources A-Z
Google Scholar v Google

Your search strategy

In general, wherever you search, think beforehand and consider:

  • what are you trying to answer/discuss?
  • what are your keywords?  What are they and how should you use them? 
  • where should you search?
  • what filters should you consider? eg the publication date? Peer-reviewed?
  • quality - is the source reliable? Peer reviewed? Published? 

For more information on how to search effectively see our Searching page on StudySkills.

Search tips

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