Elements of a Journal
Click Play to watch a short video on the various elements of a journal and how to quickly review them for useful ideas and information.
Elements of a Journal Article Video Transcript
Journal articles can be important resources for many research topics as they often focus on very specific research questions. Since journal articles are published periodically (every month, for example) they are useful for finding the most current perspectives on a particular issue or topic.
Journal articles can vary in form, depending on the subject area or discipline, or even depending on what journal they appear in. There are some common elements that all journal articles contain that will help you evaluate their appropriateness for your work. These can be found near the beginning of the article. For example, articles will have a title indicative of their content.
Additionally, the author or authors of the article should be clearly identified. Unlike web pages, which frequently do not list their authors, journal articles will always clearly identify them as well as include information about the authors’ institutional affiliations. These will often be universities, governments or research labs. This information may appear on the first page of the article, though sometimes it is found near the end of the article.
Technical elements necessary for your bibliography will appear near the beginning of the article. These include the name, volume, and issue of the journal in which the article appears. The year of publication and the page information for the article will also be indicated. You should see this information at the top or bottom of the first few pages.
In terms of the content of the article, there are other elements that are useful to skim. Many articles will contain an abstract, which provides a summary of the article’s research questions, methods and findings.
The introductory or background information in the first few paragraphs will often identify other research that has been conducted on the topic, or on closely related topics. Sometimes this first section reviews literature on the topic and can be very useful for identifying other articles or books that you may wish to consult.
Articles generally contain section titles that provide an overview of how the article is structured. Consulting tables and images may also help provide a quick sense of key ideas and findings.
And last, but not least, there should be a bibliography or list of references. These references may appear at the end or be scattered in footnotes throughout the article. These may help you identify other useful books and articles for your research.
If you’re ever stuck, wonder if there are other avenues to explore, or are encountering challenges using any library resources, don’t hesitate to consult a librarian by using the “Ask a Librarian” online chat, or inquire in-person at any library reference desk.