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Finding journal articles and journals: Finding journal articles

A guide to finding journal articles and journals available to University members..

Study space with laptop and booksJournal articles are usually short papers on specific topics. In print they are published regularly in issues or parts, which combine to form a volume of a journal (also called periodicals). Online versions often retain the concept of volumes, issues and pages, although some online only journals use an article reference number instead.

Use articles to find:

  • up-to-date research in your subject
  • reviews of developments in your subject - these review articles include extensive lists of references
Types of articles
  • Primary sources - the majority of articles are first hand accounts of research that has been undertaken written by the researchers themselves. These are primary sources.
  • Secondary sources - describe, summarize, or discuss information or details originally presented in another source. The following types of articles are secondary sources:
    • Review articles summarise the current state of the knowledge on a topic (many databases allow you to restrict search results to this type of article).
    • Systematic reviews are a specialised form of review article. These usually seek to answer a specific question by using a reproducible method to gather relevant studies and evaluate the evidence. They often include a meta-analysis of the statistics derived from the relevant articles. For more information see our guide to doing a systematic review.

Finding articles in Summon

The easiest way to find journal articles on a topic is to search Summon. This service searches across articles held in most of the journals covered by Library subscriptions. One search on Summon will also find relevant content in our e-books, online encyclopedias and other sources.


Watch our video for an introduction to searching Summon to find articles.

If you are unable to view these videos on YouTube they are also available on YuJa:

Finding free Open Access articles

Take a look at our guide to finding free research resources which includes links to many sources of free, Open Access articles:

Finding articles in subject databases

The Library subscribes to databases which you can search to find relevant articles. These allow you to run more precise searches than is possible in Summon, and will extend your search beyond our collections (vital if you are doing a literature search for your dissertation or PhD).

Getting hold of articles found in a database search

Some databases will include the full-text of articles, but where this isn't available when searching databases just click on the "Search for item at Reading" button next to each reference. This will link you directly to the article if it is available online as part of our collections. You can also search the catalogue automatically to find out if we hold the print journal.  See the 'Finding journals' tab for more information.

If we don't have access to an article we can usually get it for you from another library via our Inter-library Loans Service. There is no charge for this service but there are restrictions on the number you can request.