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Journals: About Journals

Journal Basics

Scholarly information is disseminated through journals. Journals publish a variety of content in each issue, which may include:

  • primary articles which are empirical research studies and original essays
  • secondary articles which are commentary on and critique of other research and ideas
  • book reviews, announcements, and editorials related to a profession

Journals—and therefore articles—are housed in research databases, which allow you to search for articles from hundreds of journals at once. It is more efficient to search a database by topic than to find a journal that might cover a topic and sift through articles in only that journal.

Most journals cost money. If you search for articles on the Web, you often need to pay to see full text. When you search our databases, you find full-text articles the library has already paid for.

Some journals are open access, or free. Some of these are included in our databases so you can find their articles alongside fee-based articles. Other open access content can be found by going directly to the journal's website or searching Google Scholar.

Some journals are embargoed. To protect print profits, some journal publishers withhold electronic copies of articles until time has passed since publication, usually a year. Thus the library may not have recent issues of some journals. After the embargo period, the full text will appear.

Looking for journals on a subject or topic? Be warned!

Browsing journals helps you:

  • stay on top of your field by learning about current research
  • discover issues and trends that you didn't know existed
  • get ideas for research papers

Warning! Looking for articles on a topic by searching for the best journals can be:

  • time-consuming with 53,000+ journals to browse in the Walden Library
  • inefficient as top journals won't necessarily cover the topics of interest to you
  • patchy, as you may miss important articles in other, more general journals if you search only topic-focused journals

If you need articles on a topic, use a database.

  • Search hundreds of journals at once. 
  • Quickly cover more content and discover articles in new and unfamiliar journals.
  • From the Library homepage, click Select a subject in the Subject Resources box to see recommended databases for that area.