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Understanding ejournals

Student making notes from a laptop studying at home

During your studies, you will need to do some independent research. Alongside academic books, textbooks and encyclopaedias, one of the most common types of resource that you will come across and use is the Academic Journal.

Described as being like ‘academic magazines’, journals contain articles which cover a particular area of study, and are published regularly throughout the year – and the OU library subscribes to over 150,000 of them. Journal articles tend to provide an in-depth look at research in a specific area, and don’t normally provide a topic overviews, or subject introductions. You will be best looking in an ebook if you are looking for an introductory information. You can learn more about ebooks from the Understanding ebooks page.

Ejournals are simply journals which are published online.

The articles which are published within journals are written by subject experts, and many undergo a rigorous quality check called peer review.

This means journal articles are:

  • Reliable
  • Conform to high academic standards
  • Good to use in assignments.

In your studies you may be asked to find and read journal articles or be told that a journal is core to your studies

Where to find ejournals

Most journals - like Children's Geographies and the British journal of nursing - can be found using Library Search to search for the journal name.

You can search Library Search for a specific journal or find journals covering particular topics.
Key journal titles for your subject area are also listed in the selected resources for your study pages. These pages are particularly helpful if your module requires you to do independent research.

Advantages of ejournal databases

The ejournals which the OU library subscribes to are made available through many different databases.

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
  • Gives you access to the full text.

The OU Library subscribes to over 100 journal databases, It’s worth noting that one journal can appear in multiple different databases. Some databases will provide you with the most recent issue of a journal, others may give access to older issues.

Try it for yourself

If you already know a journal in your subject area, why not try accessing it through Library Search? Alternatively go to selected resources for your study and choose a subject that interests you. Use the ejournals filter to see a list of journals on that topic. Choose one and have a quick look at the back issues.

You can find out about articles from the understanding articles page.