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COLL 10: Journal & Magazine Articles

First Year Seminar

Explore Your Research Topic

Newspapers and Media

What are Journal Articles?

Academic journal articles are reports of an expert's original research, analysis, or review of the research available on a topic. In history, the most common kinds of articles are research papers, historiographies, and book reviews/review articles. These specialized reports are published in journals, which are publications aimed at professionals and scholars.

In general, journal articles usually have the following parts:

  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Method
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • References
  • Appendices
  • Tables and/or figures

Journals are not always found freely online. As a Merced College student, however, you have free access to academic journals through the library databases. 

Some journals are also refeered or peer-reviewed, which means that other experts have double-checked that the work is sound. When searching the library databases, you can limit your results to items that are peer-reviewed.

Because these are professional sources of information, journal articles are not the best resources to use for basic or background information. For example, if you need to know the major factors that led to the U.S. Civil War, the better resource to use would be a textbook or encyclopedia. Journal articles are better at delving into topics that are more narrow in focus. For example, an article might focus on the economic structure of South Carolina rice plantations.

Here are some links to help you understand the basic parts of an academic journal article and advice for how to read journal articles.

In-Depth Research: Journals and Articles

1. Select the appropriate databases for you topic, in our case:

  • Academic Search Complete (this is where the Chronicle of Higher Education is located)

  • MasterFile Complete

  • OmniFile Full Text Select

  • ERIC

  • Professional Development Collection

2.  Select only the databases you need for quick searching.

3.  Search by individual keywords, don't type whole questions

4.  Talk to a librarian for an individual session on this important database!


Google Scholar Search

Use Google Scholar to help you discover other scholarly items.

Google Scholar Search

How to Read a Journal Article Result

Use this handout to help you figure out the parts of a journal article record. This will help you when you need to put your works cited page together.