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Strategic Communication: Journals

When to use journals

Journals are one of the main places where scholars publish their work. Journals have a narrow scope within a field. For example, The Journal of Public Relations Research publishes "research that creates, tests, or expands public relations theory". 

These journals are usually published 3-4 times a year, which is why they are sometimes also referred to as periodicals. This is why almost every journal article citation has both an issue and a volume number. The volume is roughly related to the year of publication of the journal and the issue is related to the season. So 54(4) in a citation would likely represent that this is the 54th year of publication of the journal and the article was published in the winter of that year. Of course, in practice this can be messier, but the purpose is primarily to help us find the specific journal article by its citation. Nowadays, journal articles also have a DOI. The DOI is a string of numbers and letters that serve as a unique identifier to an article. You can think of it and use it as a URL, but one that will never change.

Many academic journals primarily publish empirical research, essentially the reports of formal research studies. These articles aren't very long, usually 10-30 pages, but use specialized terminology and often include advanced statistics. They are often difficult to read. Academic journal articles often follow a predictable pattern for how they are composed and share some commonly used headings. These can help direct your reading. 

Academic journals usually also have a strict peer-review process prior to possible publication, and therefore are often referred to as peer-reviewed journals. Publishing in academic journals is a long and complicated process. The most prestigious journals can reject around 90% of the submissions they receive. Since scholars can only send their manuscript (unpublished work) to one journal at a time, the process is often critiqued for significantly slowing down the dissemination of new knowledge. 

Finding a specific journal or an article by a citation

Screenshot of Journals by Title Link

From the Library home page

  • Use the Journals by Title link below the Summon search box 
  • Enter the title of the journal you are searching for in the search box. Do NOT use the autocomplete feature for the title of your journal. Click Search.
  • If no results appear, we do not subscribe to the journal. If we have multiple access points to the journal, carefully review the dates of coverage to choose the most appropriate option for your needs. 
  • For example, if I was looking for the following citation, our only access to the full text would be through Business Source Complete. Once in Business Source Complete I can navigate by volume, issue, and page number to find the article. 
    • McDuff, D., & Berger, J. (2020). Why Do Some Advertisements Get Shared More than Others? Quantifying Facial Expressions To Gain New Insights. Journal of Advertising Research60(4), 370–380. 

Screenshot of links to the Journal of Advertising Research