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What is a journal?

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In the academic context, journals are scholarly publications containing articles that are written by researchers, professors or other experts. Journals typically focus on a specific discipline or field of study. They are intended for academic or technical audiences, not general readers, and therefore differ from magazines and newspapers.

A few facts about journal articles:

  • Usually peer reviewed
  • Written by experts for experts
  • Contain original research or new theories, analysis or interpretations
  • Reference other works 
  • May be published in print, online or both formats

Journals are published regularly (monthly, quarterly, bi-annually) and are numbered sequentially. 

Each copy is called an issue, and a set of issues make a volume. Usually each year is considered a separate volume. For example, the fictitious Journal of Algoma History is a quarterly journal in its 3rd year of publication. The spring volume of the journal would be volume 3, issue 2. Journals may also be called periodicals or serials.

Adapted from the University of Victoria's "What's a journal?" page.