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 (PDF)

    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.

    You can use Cite Them Right Online to help you accurately create your own references to journal articles. If you have found an article online and need to reference it, make sure you have recorded these details:

    • Author(s)
    • Title of article
    • Title of journal
    • Year of publication
    • Volume number (if given)
    • Issue number (if given)
    • Page numbers

    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 and databases

    LibrarySearch » is a good place to start if you want to find journal articles on a topic. Just type your keywords or a phrase in the search box. At the results screen, use the the filter options on the left to limit your search to peer-reviewed articles. 

    We recommend you also use databases to search for articles - and other resources - especially for more in-depth research. This is because LibrarySearch doesn’t cover all of our e-resources and you may get better results on a more specialised database.

    Further help 

    Finding journal articles on a topic through LibrarySearch and databases (PDF) » Includes tips on how to search databases effectively.

    Project search plan (Word) » Designed to help you plan your search & think about keywords. Download a copy and add your own notes.

    Contact your Academic Liaison Librarian for individual help.

    Useful databases

    Good for any subject 

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

    Good for Business and Hospitality 

    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 INFO3010 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.
      Check Cite Them Right Online for guidance on how to reference BoB programmes in the Harvard style used at Brookes.
    • News sources
    • English dictionaries & reference sources