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What are Journals and Journal Articles?

Journals are publications that are published periodically throughout the year. Each issue is released monthly, bi-monthly, or quarterly, depending on the title. All the issues published in a given year form a volume.

They contain articles about research, academic discourse and features written by experts in their field and are key resources for your studies. The library subscribes to many thousands of journal titles relevant to the subjects studied at the university. The video below gives an overview of journals, journal articles and their importance to university study.

 what is a journal video 2,

For more information on the role of journals in university study and how to use them in your assignments, take a look at the Finding Information section of Skills@Cumbria.

  • Types of journals

    There are three main types of journals as described in the table below, each of which have a slightly different purpose and intended audience. These differences are reflected in the type of articles they contain ranging from highly scholarly research findings to news items and opinion pieces. Check your Library Subject Page for the key journal titles in your field.

    Academic Journals Often quite specialised and focus on a particular field or topic, articles will report findings from research projects or contain discussions on best practice or issues within the field. These articles will usually have been peer-reviewed by other experts in the subject area, meaning articles published in academic journals have been through a rigorous quality control process.
    Professional Journals  Similar in most respects to academic journals, but may be more practice-oriented. Some may also be less formal than their academic counterparts and may include updates and general information for practitioners in the relevant field. Professional journals may also include some job advertisements and CPD opportunities. Some articles which appear in professional journals may have been peer-reviewed.
    Trade Journals

    These will include a wide range of information specific to the trade sector covered, including product and price information, job advertisements, scientific or technical articles and reports and possibly directory information. Trade journals keep you updated on news and development, making them an excellent resource to support your employability.

  • Peer Review

    Many academic journals use the process of peer review to evaluate articles before publishing. This is where other scholars in the field review a draft of the article, assess the quality of the research that's been conducted and suggest revisions which must be made before it can be published. Therefore, peer review acts as a rigorous quality control process in academic publishing. Watch the video below to find out more.

    What is peer review video image,

    Many online journal collections give you the option to limit your search to peer reviewed or academic journal articles only. Check the filters available in the platform you are using to see if you can refine your result to only include peer-reviewed material. 

  • Finding journal articles

    There are many millions of journal articles available, some are freely available via Open Access Resources, but most are only accessible via subscribed collections paid for by the Library. Tracking down ones for your topic can be a little tricky as no one library or search engine can provide a complete collection. Therefore, there are a number of ways to search for journals and journal articles: 

    1. The university library subscribes to as many titles as possible and makes them available via Onesearch.  Try out the Advanced Search option to tailor your searching as explained in our video below:

     onesearch advanced search,

    2. Our Library subject pages will provide details of key eresources or journal collections to help find relevant material for your course.

    3. Google Scholar is also useful for searching for articles including ones freely available and not held behind a paywall. Where ones are behind a paywall check access via our resources by linking Google Scholar to our full text. 

    4. You can browse or search within specific journal titles by using our Journals A-Z - see below.

  • Journals A to Z

    This is a list of all of the journals available at the University of Cumbria, both print and electronic.
    Use this list to see if the Library subscribes to a particular journal.  You can then link through to the specific journal to browse the contents, locate a specific article using a reference or search within the journal for articles on a particular topic.

    N.B this only searches for the JOURNAL title not for articles.

    A-Z of Journals

    The video below will help you get the most out of our Journals A-Z:


  • Can't access the full-text?

    OneSearch should find you articles that are available to you in full-text but if you have been searching some of the other resources you may not be able to access the full-text of the article, only the abstract.  There are a number of things you can do to track down a PDF of the whole article:

    • Check OneSearch, it may be available in another database we hold.
    • Check the Journals A - Z for the journal title to see if we hold it.  Sometimes you can get into an article this way if the link from OneSearch doesn't work.
    • Check Google Scholar.  Sometimes the author or journal may have made an article Open Access.
    • Check CORE.  This is a collection of Open Access research.
    • Install browser plug-in such as Unpaywall or EndNote Click  that track down an Open Access version of the article.
    • Request a copy from the British Library via our Interlibrary loan scheme.
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