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Physics: Journal articles

Library support for Physics

Introduction - what is a journal article?

A journal is a specific type of academic publication. Like magazines, new parts of journals are published regularly throughout the year. This may be monthly, biannually (twice a year) or quarterly (every three months) and each of these parts is referred to as a journal issue.

Each journal issue contains a collection of articles (short pieces of written work). Articles are written by academic staff from universities and other research institutions. The articles provide information about current research and teaching and will be referred to during your studies.

As with books, within the first few pages of a journal issue, there will be a list of contents. These may include articles, reviews, editorials and other short pieces of informative writing.

Interpreting journal article references

Depending on the referencing style you are using, a journal article reference will look something like this:

Finding journal articles


There are 2 interfaces you can use to find journal articles, depending on how comprehensive you want your search to be:

  1. QUB Article Search can be useful as a quick way of obtaining some full text articles on a topic
  2. Journal bibliographic databases will give you more specific and comprehensive results, so are the preferred method when doing a larger scale literature review

1. Article Search

You can use Article Search on the library homepage to quickly find some full text articles on a topic. Select the Article Search tab beside the library Catalogue tab and enter your keywords.

2. Bibliographic databases

If you want to do a more comprehensive and detailed search of the research literature, a better option is to use bibliographic databases (often just referred to as 'databases'). These contain references and abstracts (summaries) of journal articles; they are not limited to QUB subscriptions and they allow you to set out your search in a more structured way. You will usually find more relevant and comprehensive results by using the bibliographic databases. For further information, see Bibliographic databases page.

Keeping up to date

You can set up email alerts within bibliographic databases to find out what new articles are being published in your area of interest; check out the Help screens in each database for instructions of how to do this. 

Finding a journal

If you want to see whether QUB subscribes to a particular journal (as opposed to a journal article), you can check the journal titles in the library catalogue: 


Most of the current journal subscriptions at QUB are available as e-journals. Go to the E-Journals A-Z list to search for a particular journal eg Journal of Plasma Physics

Print journals

Some of the older issues of journals are available in print format in the library. Use the library catalogue to search for print journals at QUB.  Print journals are kept on mobile shelves on each floor of the library; see video below on Using the mobile shelving for print journals. 

Using the mobile shelving for print journals


Scanned readings

Some journal articles on your reading lists may be available under the relevant module code in Canvas. Ask your lecturer or contact me ( if you have any queries about these readings.