What are journal articles?
Scholarly journal articles report on the findings of scholarly studies. Journals publish articles on a regular basis. Think of a journal like a scholarly magazine. A journal might be published once every month, or every two months, but no matter the frequency, it will include a collection of recent articles by different authors in the journal's area of focus. Journals can be published in print, but most are published online.
One reason journal articles are valued is that they are often peer reviewed. The peer review process allows those who are knowledgeable in a discipline to assess the quality and validity of the research, so that low-quality research is not published. It is a type of quality control for journal articles.
Each journal has an area of focus. As an example, the ACI Structural Journal for publishes articles on the the topics of: structural design, analysis of concrete elements and structures, research related to concrete elements and structures, and papers addressing design and analysis theory. IEEE, the Institute for Electronic and Electrical Engineering publishes over 400 journals, each with a different area of focus. With thousands of journals in the field of engineering, you can’t browse webpages for individual articles, you need to search.
How to find journal articles?
UBC Library provides access to many article databases where engineering students can find scholarly journal articles. Compendex and Scopus are the main databases that we recommend when searching for journal articles. Choose the research guide most relevant to your field of study and it will direct you to relevant databases to search within.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines peer review as:
"The process by which an academic journal passes a paper submitted for publication to independent experts for comments on its suitability and worth; refereeing" (Oxford English Dictionary, 2022).
The publisher Biomed Central defines peer review as:
"Peer review is the system used to assess the quality of a manuscript before it is published. Independent researchers in the relevant research area assess submitted manuscripts for originality, validity and significance to help editors determine whether a manuscript should be published in their journal" (Biomedcentral.com, 2023). Biomed also provides some great diagrams that help explain the process.
To assess whether an article is peer reviewed, you can look for the following:
The diagram depicts the first page of an article titled “Hemp waste valorization as biofuel and cement replacement in cement and concrete production,” published in 2021 in a journal titled “Waste and Biomass Valorization.” To view this full article, you need to login with your CWL.
Not all articles will be formatted exactly the same, but the pieces of information we have highlighted are standard, and as a reader of academic articles, it helps to know what they mean.