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Education: Electronic Journals/Databases

Commonly Used Education Databases

See a complete list of Education databases

Why Choose a Database and Not a Website

Use the databases to find peer reviewed articles, statistics, art work and more that is not available to you on the web.  The databases that the Library subscribes to contain material that is not accessible via a web search (i.e. using Google, Yahoo!, Live Search or other search engines).

The material found within the databases is generally more acceptable to use than much of the material found on the web because it comes from professionals working in the field that you are researching.  Although you still need to scrutinize the material that you are finding in the databases to make sure that it is appropriate for your paper, you can be much more certain that the information is more credible than what you might find from a basic web search.

There are many appropriate websites you can use for your research (see the "Various Websites for Education" tab on this guide for a handful), but to write a really good paper you are going to need to use the databases.

If you need help in choosing or using a database please feel free to contact me or any of the Librarians.

Why Journals?


Whereas books provide a broad overview of a topic, scholarly journal articles cover a very narrow aspect of the same topic. For example, if you searched on the history of the planet Earth you might find:

a book titled: The story of Earth : the first 4.5 billion years, from stardust to living planet


a journal article titled: Manganese deposits: Communication 2. Major epochs and phases of manganese accumulation in the Earth's history.

The book discusses the natural history of the planet spanning 4.5 billion years but the journal article is discussing only Manganese deposits over the history of their existence. The book is broad, the article is very narrow, in scope.

Keeping Up-to-Date

Research is constantly updated, so researchers keep up-to-date on the most recent research in their field by reading journals specific to their interests. For instance, in the sciences, research changes very rapidly; new discoveries are made and theories are disproved all the time. Research in the sciences can often be considered "old" after just a couple of years.

Writing a book can take several years, whereas a journal might be published every month or even every week. Books can't keep up with the fast pace of change like a journal.

Journals, magazines and periodicals. What's the difference?

The term periodicals covers a broad category of items published on a recurring basis. Periodicals include:

  • Newspapers
  • Magazines
  • Academic Journals


Newspapers usually come out every day and report short stories on current events that are usually written for a general audience.


Magazines are periodicals that include short stories, news, in-depth reporting, and other types of articles directed towards a general audience. Most people can read a magazine article and understand it. In academia, we often refer to magazines as popular literature.


Journals are generally written for an academic audience. The articles are written by researchers in a particular field for other researchers in that field. Generally, journals will include editorials, literature reviews, and primary research articles. Often times you may need to be a background, or a degree, to understand the primary research articles in a journal.

If you need to, go back and review some of the videos on the Scholarly vs. Popular page under the How Information is Organized tab

Types of Articles

When searching through an academic journal, looking for a primary research article, you may come across several types of articles:

  • Editorials
  • Literature reviews
  • Primary research articles


Editorials are opinion pieces.The author is expressing his opinion on a topic within his field of expertise. The article is usually written so that one does not need to be an expert on the topic, but they probably have some background. Editorials are usually short (2 -3 pages at most) and may have a handful of citations, or the author may not be citing anyone at all.

Literature Reviews

Literature reviews are longer than editorials and thoroughly discuss a topic. The author is citing other people's research, although they are not doing any original research on their own part.

Primary Research

Primary research articles discuss the author's research in-depth. The author will present, a literature review, how they did their research, the data that they've collected, what it all means, and all of the citations of other people's past work on the topic.

Common elements of a primary research article are:

  • Abstract - a short paragraph summing up the article
  • Introduction - an explanation as to why the research is being done
  • Literature review - past research on the topic
  • Methodology - how the data was collected
  • Data - the data collected based on the methods presented
  • Discussion - what the data means
  • Conclusion - a self critique of the work and suggestions for improvement
  • References - a bibliography of the work presented in the literature review

Not all of these will appear in every research article, and it may vary between disciplines (science, humanities, business, etc.) and the type of research being done.


Primary Research

Literature Review



Expert (affiliation, degrees, etc.)

Expert (affiliation, degrees, etc.)

Expert (affiliation, degrees, etc.)


Professionals in the discipline; other experts.

General audience in the discipline.

General audience in the discipline


Author does his/her own: research, lists citations, and references.

Look for: methodology, data, discussion of results, lit review, etc.

Author does a large literature review; uses others original research. lists citations/references

Author addresses concerns of discipline about a topic or article


To inform and disseminate research

To fill a knowledge need in the discipline

To discuss an area or concern in the discipline

Article Examples

Use the Journal List to Find an Article

The Journal List allows you to discover the journals to which the Library has access. This is especially helpful when you have a citation and want to find the actual article.

For example, given the following citation:

Wood, P. J. (2011). Understanding and evaluating historical sources in nursing history research. Nursing Praxis in New Zealand, 27(1), 25-33.

  1. Search on the journal title (in this case,Nursing Praxis in New Zealand,).
  2. The results list will show if we have the journal along with the available date range and the database in which you can find it.
  3. If the publication date of the journal falls within the available date range, then click on the database title.
  4. Once you're in the database, follow the date, volume, and issue number to the article given in the citation.
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