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Finding Library Resources

What is a journal?

This page will help you find journal articles and other scholarly sources to provide evidence of informed reading on your topic, and form the foundation of your written work.

What is a scholarly journal?

A scholarly journal is a publication released in regular instalments which contains research relating to a particular subject area. These are often referred to as periodicals or serials. 

Journals are useful when you:

  • are seeking information for your assignment or literature review

  • need to find recently published papers on a particular topic

  • want to identify important and current research in your field

  • commence the ‘scoping exercise’ for your research project.

Most journals contain peer-reviewed or refereed articles written by academics, scholars and other experts in a field of study, which are rigorously evaluated by other experts in the same field as the author. The process of peer-review or refereeing is a form of scholarly quality control that ensures the information is original, authoritative and of a high standard. 


You can learn more about peer review and scholarly sources in our Evaluating Sources guide.

For more information on what a Journal is, watch the video below.


Search platforms and databases can return an enormous number of results. To avoid information overload, try applying some of the general search tips below.

  • Keep it simple! Choose a few key terms to start with.
  • Place quotation marks (“ “) around your keywords to search for the terms as a phrase (the terms appear in the order specified).
  • Most databases allow you to add filters you refine your results by date, location, or type of source
  • Build a subject glossary - as you research, you may find certain words popping up more frequently that relate to your topic. Think of these as searchboosters. Use them if your searches are not finding what you need.
  • Keep a list of the key acronyms in your field. Be mindful that just searching for specific acronyms won't always return what you want, but when used in conjunction with your topic keywords, can help hone your searches to get the best results.
  • Use citation chaining. Found a great resource on your topic and wish there were more like it? Scroll down to the bottom and look at the references and citations. This should have a list of resources that could be relevant to your topic.
  • Command-F or Control-F - if you are unsure if a resource has enough relevant content, try this: hit control-f (or command-f on a Mac) and plug in your keywords/phrases. This finds specific words in a document or website, so that you can decide if it is worth reading further.

Page Contact: ANU Library Communication Team