Research Strategies (abridged) - 4
Note that chapter arrangements in the 2011 4th print edition will differ from the above.
Making your Way through the Journal Maze
[The material below is now is the second part
of Chapter 5 of the print edition.
It has been
Just when you thought that finding books was trouble enough, someone is sure to suggest to you that there�s another whole world of research materials crying out for attention�journalsActually, the whole category I�m thinking of is broader than that. Librarians, ever the stuffy folks we are, call them �periodicals,� that is, materials that arrive in the library periodically, as opposed to a book that arrives only once. Included in the category is everything from newspapers to popular magazines (or e-zines) to scholarly journals. But I�m going to call them journals anyway, because the primary readers of this book are doing academic research that focuses on journals.
Some Background on the Journal Scene.
Before we get to journal databases, let�s clarify what makes journals different from books. The most significant difference is that you can�t catalog a journal like you catalog a book. When a librarian gets a new book for the collection, the book is cataloged (i.e. has a catalog record created for it) and put on the shelf. After that, there is nothing to do but sign the book out and check it back in until it falls apart. The cataloger�s job is done.
But journal issues keep on arriving every week or month or quarter or year. By definition, they are periodical. You can�t just create a descriptive record for them once and for all like you can a book, because they keep changing as more issues are added to the growing collection. While it might be possiblefor a librarian to assign a subject heading to each article in each journal as it arrives and then to create a database so that you could find articles on any given topic, it just wouldn�t be practical. No librarian has the time to create a separate database of all the library�s journal articles.
The field of journals is governed by several categories, some of which are showing rapid change:
Popular vs. Scholarly [more detail in print edition]
Print vs. Electronic [more detail in print edition]
Pay vs. Open Access [more detail in print edition]
Introduction to Journal Databases
Even thinking of using journals in a research project may produce in you a shudder of horror. You imagine sitting down in front of piles of printed journals, thumbing through each one in an anguished quest for something (anything!) on the �The Implications for Generation Y of Max Weber�s Approach to the Sociology of Cities.� Hours later, in bitterness of heart and soul, you will emerge, red-eyed, with one article that is only vaguely relevant. Journal research used to be done that way when your grandfather was a wee lad in school. Now things are very different, due to the development of journal databases.
These databases are created this way: Indexers sit down in front of piles of print journals or their electronic equivalents (often related to a specific subject discipline, such as psychology or history or religion) and create a metadata record for each article. The metadata is loaded into the database, thus making it searchable. By doing a search, you can generate a list of articles from various journals that are relevant to the subject you are studying.
Approaching a journal database means first being able to �read� its interface. The interface is what you actually see on the computer screen when you search for the data in a journal database. It includes the screen display, search methods, and so on. Interfaces change constantly. Data doesn�t. What this means is that the screen may look different the next time you use the database. The instructions on use may be different. Even the methods you need to follow to search the index may be different. The data inside the database is the same, but the means you use to extract it may be brand new.
How to Read an Interface [more detail in print edition]
Here is an interface from Academic Search Premier, an EBSCO journal database:
Let�s start with an example [more detail in print edition]
Some Tips on Journal Article Citations
A journal article citation is simply a description of an article with sufficient information to help you find it. While the format of a citation may vary, this is the information usually provided:
Badke, William. �Can�t Get No Respect: Helping Faculty to Understand the Educational Power of Information Literacy.� The Reference Librarian 43, no. 89/90 (2005): 63-80.
Here it is broken down:
Badke,William.�Author of the article.
�Can�t Get No Respect: Helping Faculty to Understand the
Educational Power of Information
The Reference Librarian�Name of the journal in which the article is found.
43�Volume number of the journal. Each new year gets a new volume number.
no. 89/90�Issue number. In this case, this is a double issue.
(2005)�Date the article was published.
63-80�Page numbers of the issue in which the article is found.
Journal Databases with Electronic Full Text [more detail in print edition].
Rather than simply listing citations to various journal
articles, full text databases add the actual text
Citation Searches, Related Articles and Reference Lists �Alternative Ways of Searching [see print edition]
A First Adventure with a Real Live Journal Database [see print edition]
Varieties of the Journal Database [see print edition]
Federated Search [see print edition]
[For a study guide to this chapter along with
practice exercises (and key) and
Page revised: July 16, 2012