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Music Production Subject Guide: Journals


Accessing Journals

What is a journal?

A journal is a regular publication that is published weekly, monthly or quarterly. They are subject based and contain articles written by experts or professionals in that subject. There are a wide range of journals, available both in hard copy or online as e-journals
Journals may also be referred to as periodicals and serials, they are just different words for the same publication.  

How do I find journal articles?

You can find journal articles by using our resource discovery tool, Summon. this tool will also highlight key databases for your search, and allow you to search them individually.

Key Journals

Understanding Journal Articles

There are thousands of journals published each year and they range from the magazines that you find on the shelves of your local newsagent to specialist publications subscribed to by professionals. 

Material that is published will fall into one of two categories, Primary Literature and Secondary literature.

Primary Literature

Primary literature includes Research Papers, Scientific Papers or Research Articles, these articles describe the methods and results of a particular piece or research.

A research article or paper is normally the first time that findings for a piece of research have been published.  It describes what researchers did, what they found out during the research and what they think the results mean.

Most primary literature is peer reviewed.


Secondary literature

Secondary literature is material that is written as a  response to primary literature.  It reviews, follows up or offers opinions about primary literature. 

There are several types of  article that fall into the secondary literature category, reviews, literature reviews, book reviews, editorial and news.

It is much easier to make sense of scientific papers if you have an understanding of the structure that they follow, and the majority of peer-reviewed original research articles follow the same structure and layout. 

This structure is known as IMRAD and can be broken down into the following parts

I = Introduction

The Introduction provides the context and background of the research and the aims and objectives of the study.

M = Method

The method section will describe the methods and materials used in the study.  This section addressed how the research was undertaken

R = Results

The results area will describe the findings of the research.  The section may include tables or charts.

 D = Discussion

This part of the paper evaluates and discusses the results

In some instances you might find the structure is slightly different, but normally an article will contain all of the above elements.

Additional fields may include keywords, abstract, acknowledgements, conclusion and list of references.

As an undergraduate you will be expected to take responsibility for your own reading.

Lecturers are likely to refer you to reading on the reading list that supports the module you are studying or to additional sources that they mention in lectures. 

It is worth remembering that the library will also have additional resources not mentioned by your lecturer or on your reading which could also be useful.

Why read?

It is good to get into the habit of following up a lecture with relevant reading.   By doing this you will help your own understanding of the subject especially if there was something in the lecture that you didn't understand.
It is better to do a little reading rather than none at all. 

What to read

You may feel overwhelmed by the amount of material available to you, how do you know if something is going to be worth reading? 
The first thing to do is to skim or scan the book to find out a bit about the content, only by taking a look at the material can you see if it is going to be useful.

You don't have to read everything, or a whole book.
it is better to be selective and focus on understanding what you read.
You may need to read something more than once in order to understand it. 

Active reading

  • Active reading is the process of reading with a purpose in mind, this could be an assignment, revision for an exam or following up a subject of interest.
  • Active reading involves engaging with the text and asking questions about what you are reading.  Ask yourself what you hope to get out of your reading.
  • You can jump into the text at any point, re-read things and work back and forth through the text.
  • While you are reading keep in mind what you already know about the topic. 
  • Make notes and annotations while you are reading. 

Understanding Journals

What is an abstract?

An abstract is a summary of the research written in a small number of words (typically half a page at most)..

They're often found at the beginning of dissertations, theses, or journal articles.  The abstract should give the reader enough information about the research to make them recognise its significance and assess whether it is relevant to the particular area they are researching. 

This section is important because it potentially saves you time reading, by allowing you to get a feel for the contents of the article without having to read through it entirely.


What is peer review?

  • Peer review is an important process applied to research articles before publication. Peer review involves the article being read by professionals and experts in the field to assess the quality, significance and relevance of the research. 
  • This process can highlight errors in the research process, duplicated work and flaws in experimental design. If there are problems with the research then the article is returned to the original authors for further work.
  • Reviewers are selected based on their knowledge of a subject area, they will be specialists in their field, they will be expected to retain confidentiality about the paper that they are working on and be objective and fair.
    The time-scale for the review process is usually about two weeks.
  • Once a peer reviewed article is published it is 'recognised' as a piece of work of value and importance.
  • Post publication discussion about the work undertaken in the article usually continues through letters to the editor and further debate among the research or academic community.

What are Impact Factors?

The Journal Impact Factor is a method of ranking a particular title against others in the field. Ranking is undertaken annually and arrived at using a formula based on the number of times articles in a particular journal have been cited in the previous two years divided by the total number of articles published in the journal title in the last two years.

Journal Impact Factors are primarily used in the scientific publishing community, but are increasingly being applied to humanities journals

How do I find out the impact factor of a journal?

You can access Journal Citation Reports (JCR) through the Web of Science database

Once in Web of Knowledge select Additional Resources and search for the journal title that you want to find.

Requesting Articles

If you're unable to find the article you're looking for, you may be able to order articles via your local University of Suffolk library.

University of Suffolk Bury

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All images included in this guide are available from Flickr through Creative Commons licensing CC-BY-2.0