What are journals?

Journals are publications which are issued at regular intervals, rather than being complete in just one issue, as most books are. They may also be called serials or periodicals for this reason. Examples of journals might be a daily newspaper, a weekly tv guide or an annual yearbook.

Academic journals are a distinct group within the world of serial publishing, and usually contain articles, commentaries and debates on particular topics which have been written by academics for a scholarly audience. Articles within these types of journal have often been through a "peer-review" process in which they have been checked for quality and accuracy by other academics. They are therefore an extremely useful source of high quality, scholarly information for your studies, whether you are researching a topic in advance of a weekly seminar, or writing a PhD thesis.

Because of the way in which they are published, journal issues are usually numbered sequentially. They may just have a volume number, if only one part is issued a year, e.g. Vol. 56, 2008. More often, several parts may be issued in any one year and each part will have not only a volume number but also an issue number, e.g. Vol. 56 (4), 2008. The page numbering for issues which make up a single volume is often sequential.

Finding journals and e-journals

The Library provides access to a wide selection of both print and online journals. Like books, printed journals have a classmark and can usually be found at the beginning of each letter sequence on the main floors of the Library, i.e. general science journals can be found at Q 1, Law journals at K 1 and Art journals at N 1.

To get an idea of the journals which are available in your subject area, you can therefore browse the shelves, or do a keyword search in the Classic catalogue including the word "periodicals", e.g. "history periodicals". You can also search for a particular journal in Encore or by using the Periodical title search in the Classic catalogue.

The Holdings information in the catalogue record for each journal will tell you which volumes are available in the Library. All Journal volumes/years can be found at the relevant floor of the library, however some current issues of journals are bound & labelled at the end of every year, so if you are having difficulty finding the latest it is a good idea to check whether it has been sent for binding.

The Library catalogue also contains details of e-journals which have the classmark "Online journal" and the tag "[electronic resource]", and which can be searched for in the same way as printed journals. To look at issues of an e-journal, click on the link in the middle of the catalogue record "view the full text on...". You will then need to put in your University username and password to get through to the journal itself. It is possible to limit your search to e-journals using the facets on the left side in Encore.

The video below gives more information about accessing the full text of an e-journal article.

Finding a particular article in a journal and finding articles on a topic

You may be given a reference to a particular journal article by one of your tutors, or come across one on a reading list. The information skills page on reading lists explains how to find articles in this way. For help in finding articles on a topic, see the information skills page on finding journal articles.

Table of Contents Alerting Services

Table of contents alerting services allow you to keep up-to-date with newly published scholarly material by enabling you to find journal tables of contents from multiple publishers.

ZETOC Alerts

ZETOC Alerts is an email-based alerting service in conjunction with the Zetoc Search service to enable you to keep up-to-date with relevant new articles and papers.

TicTOCs Journal Table of Contents Service

TicTOCS is a free service covering 12,713 scholarly journal Table of Contents (TOCs) from 447 publishers. It allows you to view the latest TOC for each journal; link to the full text of 404,828 articles (where institutional or personal subscription allows); export TOC feeds to popular feed readers; select and save journal titles to view future TOCs (Register to ensure your MyTOCs are permanently saved).


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