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EML102 Research Skills Guide: Journal databases


A journal database is an organised collection of information records that can be accessed electronically.

An information record in a journal database can contain:

  • Reference details (such as author, date of publication, title, etc)
  • Details describing the publication (such as a summary, contents, abstract, or subject area)
  • Information about its veracity (such as whether it has been peer reviewed, or its citation count)
  • A link to the full text (i.e.: to a copy of the document the record is about)

Databases often cover specific subject areas and it can be confusing if you don't know which databases contain the information you need. To help you, the Library has grouped databases into subject areas and has summarised the topics each databases covers. The Education & Teaching Databases will be particularly useful for your study.


Before journals could be accessed electronically they were printed in individual issues and could be viewed within the reference section of the library. However, these days many, if not most, journals are available online.

Some online journals are open access, which means anyone can go to the journal's website and access the articles for free. However, most online journals require you to pay to access their articles, which can be very expensive. To help you, the Library pays to access thousands of journals on your behalf.

The table below explains some of the terminology you will have heard about online journals:


An author writes an article and submits it to a journal. Also referred to as a journal article.



Journals review and publish selected articles. This is where the peer review  process may occur, which you will learn more about later.



A database is a collection of journal article records - these records contain information such as the article title, journal title, publication details, and the article abstract. They may also include a copy of the article itself.



Vendors provide access to databases. Some databases are accessible through multiple vendors.



The Library pays a subscription to vendors to access their databases.



You log on via the Library's website to access the information you need for your assignments.
All images in table above by Jack Cai via Findicons CC


Search interfaces vary from database to database but they all use the same search principles. You can learn more about how to use a specific database by visiting its help section, using the Library's video tutorials, or by contacting the library directly.

Watch the video tutorial below to see an example of a database search.


Sometimes you will read that a database is "full text", or that an article can be found in "full text".  "Full text" means that the entire document is available online. When a database carries an article in full text there will be a hyperlink to view it as a .pdf or .html document. Not all journal databases contain full text.

If an article is not available in full text you may be able to locate it in another database. Clicking on the                 Find it              button will allow you to check if the article is available elsewhere.