Journal articles and databases

  • Academic journals are key sources for your university studies and your tutors will encourage them to use them as sources in your assignments. Articles published in these journals are written by specialists in the subject and they provide an insight into current thinking, debate and research in the field you are studying. Journals can also be good sources of up to date information on current topics which may not be covered by books, as they are published periodically throughout the year . Articles can also cover a specific topic in depth, e.g. a case study.

    Here is an example of an article from an academic journal - to view it, click on the title link and log in with your Brookes student number and password when prompted:

    Bernadett Koles, B. and Nagy, P. (2012) 'Facebook usage patterns and school attitudes', Multicultural Education & Technology Journal, 6(1), pp.4-17. In particular look at:

    • the abstract (gives you an overview of the research project)
    • the introduction (sets this study in the context of previous research)

    What is peer review?

    Here is a definition of peer review:

    The evaluation of a research paper, book manuscript, or grant application by people in the same field in order to assess the quality of the argument made and its contribution to advancing that field. It is the standard approach for evaluating the quality and utility of academic work. Usually three or more peers are asked to judge a work with respect to a set of criteria. Most often this is a double-blind process, meaning the reviewers do not know the identity of the author and the author does not know who reviewed the work.

    Castree, N., Kitchin, R. and Rogers, A. (2013) A Dictionary of Human Geography. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Available at: http://www.oxfordreference.com.oxfordbrookes.idm.oclc.org/view/10.1093/acref/9780199599868.001.0001/acref-9780199599868-e-1381 (Accessed 18 November 2018)

    How does peer review work?

    Emerald publish peer reviewed journals in the fields of business, education and training. They provide details of their peer review process here.

    Why is peer review important?

    1) Provides feedback so that researchers can revise and improve their papers before publication.

    2) Quality check:

    • Prevents falsified work from being published
    • Fact checking
    • Plagiarism checking
    • Ethical issues e.g. Conflict of interests
    • Ensures the article meets high standards expected in the discipline.

    3) To maintain the reputation of the journal.

    Understanding a journal reference

    Here is an example of a reference to a journal article - it's in the Harvard style we use at Brookes:

    Bernadett Koles, B. and Nagy, P. (2012) 'Facebook usage patterns and school attitudes', Multicultural Education & Technology Journal, 6(1), pp.4-17.

    We'll look at each of the elements of this reference.


    Harvard is known as an 'author-date' referencing system, and these details come first:

    Bernadett Koles, B. and Nagy, P. (2012) 'Facebook usage patterns and school attitudes', Multicultural Education & Technology Journal, 6(1), pp.4-17.

    • Bernadett Koles, B. and Nagy, P. = the AUTHORS of the article, with their surnames (family names) listed first.
    • (2012) = the YEAR the article was published, in brackets.

    Next there are 2 TITLES - the title of the article AND the title of the journal it's published in. They are formatted in different ways to distinguish them from each other:

    Bernadett Koles, B. and Nagy, P. (2012) 'Facebook usage patterns and school attitudes', Multicultural Education & Technology Journal, 6(1), pp.4-17.

    • 'Facebook usage patterns and school attitudes' = the TITLE OF THE ARTICLE - it's in single quotation marks.
    • Multicultural Education & Technology Journal = the TITLE OF THE JOURNAL - it's in italics.

    Finally we have the details of the specific place we could find the article inside this journal:

    Bernadett Koles, B. and Nagy, P. (2012) 'Facebook usage patterns and school attitudes', Multicultural Education & Technology Journal, 6(1), pp.4-17.

    • The first number - 6 - is the VOLUME number. The volume often refers to the number of years the journal has been published.
    • The second number - 1 - is the ISSUE number. It's in brackets to distinguish it. The issue numbers often refers to the number of times the journal has been published during the year.
    • Then we have the PAGE NUMBERS - 4-17 - preceded by 'pp.'

      All of these details can help us track down a specific journal article.

    Finding a specific journal article

    Check our quick guide Using LibrarySearch to find a journal title

    Try this yourself - use the reference details to browse for this article:

    Bernadett Koles, B. and Nagy, P. (2012) 'Facebook usage patterns and school attitudes', Multicultural Education & Technology Journal, 6(1), pp.4-17.

    1. First look for the journal by title - remember this is the one in italics: Multicultural Education & Technology Journal. Go to the Library home page and select the 'Journal titles' tab. Type in the journal title. Find the journal on LibrarySearch and click on the title. Click on the 'Access journal' link to connect to the journal home page (it's on the database Emerald).
    2. On the journal home page start by browsing for the YEAR.
    3. Use the VOLUME and ISSUE numbers to find the correct journal issue.
    4. Articles in each issue will be listed in page order, so use the PAGE NUMBERS to find the specific article.

    Databases are academic equivalents of Google and other search engines, where you can type in your topic and find sources about it. Instead of searching the Web, they focus on scholarly, academic and peer-reviewed material for your assignments and research. They search through collections of journal articles (and sometimes books, book chapters, reports and other published material). Each database covers a different set of journal titles or other sources.

    Databases will give you the full reference (citation) for an article and often an abstract (summary). Some databases like Academic Search Complete and Business Source Complete also give you full text access to many of the articles.

    Where we don't have full text, you'll see a Link option like this: Worldcat Link

    When you click on the button, the Link results menu will open, usually in a new browser window. If full text is available online, the results screen will offer one or more links to full text sources. Follow the link to get to the full text.

  • Find journal articles through LibrarySearch

    LibrarySearch is a good place to start. You can use it to search for articles as well as books and other resources:

    • Type your keywords or a phrase in the LibrarySearch box
    • Use the filter options on the left of the results screen to limit your search to peer-reviewed articles.

    Find out more from this quick guide Using LibrarySearch to find journal articles on a topic (PDF)

    We recommend you also use databases to search for articles. This is because:

    • LibrarySearch doesn’t cover all of our e-resources
    • Databases offer features which allow you to tailor your search – to help you find the most relevant material.

    Find journal articles through databases

    Here are some key databases which will help you trace journal articles. For tips on searching databases, check this Pathways guide Finding journal articles on a topic through LibrarySearch and databases (PDF) and contact your Academic Liaison Librarian for 1-to-1 help. 

    Useful for any subject:

    Academic Search Complete covers all subject areas and is an excellent resource for any topic.

    Useful for Business and Hospitality:

    • Business Source Complete - key database for management, economics, finance, accounting and business topics. Includes academic journals, industry news, company information and country reports.  
    • Emerald Insight Full text articles from academic business journals. Also covers education and training.
    • Hospitality and tourism complete covers scholarly research and industry news relating to all areas of hospitality and tourism
    • Mintel contains market research reports for the UK.  How to use Mintel
    • Passport (Euromonitor) contains information about international markets, consumer lifestyles, country, and economic reports from Euromonitor International.  How to use Passport

    Check the Subject Help pages for  Business and Economics for full details of other databases recommended.

    Useful for other subjects:

    Don't forget you can check the other  subject help pages to see what databases are recommended.

    Databases for other sources:

    • Box of Broadcasts (BoB) is a service which gives you access to thousands of recorded TV and radio programmes from an online archive. The collection includes recordings of hundreds of films, so is a great resource if you're doing International Foundation module U70517 Modern British Cinema and Society. Note that you will need to sign in with your Brookes login details each time you access BoB and the first time you access it you will be prompted to create an account. This allows you to create your own playlists and clips, and ask for programmes to be added to the collection.
    • News sources
    • English dictionaries & reference sources