Information Sources: Journals
The purpose of scholarly journals is to advance knowledge within a particular academic field of study and are where experts in a particular field or discipline will publish their work. Scholarly journal articles will present original research data and findings, and review or offer opinion on specific topics in the field of interest. Scholarly journal articles are not easy to read because they are written in a very formal manner (see the Academic Writing section) and are written for people working in or studying that field, not general audiences. Most articles will have an abstract - a short summary of the article that may be easier to read than the body of the article.
Before being published, most articles in scholarly journals will undergo what is called peer review. Say you are studying three-legged hamsters. You submit an article to The Journal of Three-Legged Hamster Research on your recent work detailing how three-legged hamsters sleep. The journal, before it decides to publish your article, will send it to other three-legged hamster experts (your peers) to review. They will read and assess your article and recommend to the journal whether the article is good enough to be published. If your article is rubbish, when your peers read it, they will quickly discover this and your article will be rejected.
Scholarly journal articles are therefore the gold standard in authoritative information because
- articles are written by experts in the subject
- articles have been reviewed by other experts in the subject before being published
Scholarly journals are usually published with a volume and issue number. Each issue will contain a number of articles. A volume usually consists of all of the issues that have been published in the same year.
Nucleic Acids Research publishes research on... nucleic acids. DNA, the material your genes are made of, is a nucleic acid
The Quarterly Journal of Economics is one of the oldest professional journals of economics in the English language and publishes articles describing research in all areas of economics.
- Current research & thinking
- Cover very specific topics
- Most articles go through peer review and so should be of very high quality
- All articles contain reference lists and so allow further reading
- Too specific sometimes
- Dryly written with no concessions to a general audience
- May be difficult to find
- May be hidden behind a paywall