Understanding ejournals

Student making notes from a laptop studying at home

Journals are described as being like ‘academic magazines’, containing articles which cover a particular topic or area of study.  They are usually published regularly throughout the year: quarterly, monthly or annually.  Ejournals are simply journals which are published online.

The articles which are published within academic journals are written by subject experts and provide an in-depth look at research in a specific area.  Therefore, if you are looking for a topic overview or subject introduction, you will be best looking in an ebook. You can learn more about ebooks from the Understanding ebooks page.

Many journals undergo a rigorous quality check process called peer review, where articles are reviewed by experts in the field before being published.

Peer-reviewed journals are an essential source in independent research as they:

  • are reliable
  • conform to high academic standards
  • are a good source to use in assignments.

Be aware that even when a journal is marked as being peer reviewed, not all types of articles within it will have undergone the peer review process. For example items such as editorials, book reviews and news articles won't have been reviewed and won't count as peer reviewed articles, whereas research articles will. 

Where to find ejournals

Key journal titles for your subject area are also listed on the Selected resources for your study pages. These pages are particularly helpful if your module requires you to do independent research.

If you are looking for a specific ejournal, you can find it by searching for the title using Library Search. 

Advantages of ejournal databases

You can also use a library database, such as Academic Search Complete, to search for ejournals. Find out more about databases on the Understanding databases page.

Using an ejournal database allows you to:

  • search across thousands of articles from many journals at the same time
  • search for articles on a specific subject or topic
  • filter your search to look for peer-reviewed articles only
  • access the full text of articles.

The ejournals which the OU library subscribes to are made available through many different databases, therefore one journal can appear in multiple different databases. Some databases will provide you with the most recent issue of a journal, others may only give access to older issues.

Try it for yourself

If you already know a journal in your subject area, try accessing it through Library Search.

Alternatively go to Selected resources for your study and choose a subject that interests you. Use the 'Ejournal' filter to see a list of journals on that subject. Choose one and have a quick look at the back issues.

Find out more about articles on the Understanding articles page.