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English: Journal Articles

Why use journals?

Journal articles are usually:

  • first hand reports of original research, making them primary source material
  • the first place where new research is published, so they are at the cutting edge of your subject
  • peer-reviewed, meaning that the articles have been critically evaluated by experts in the field before publication.

Key Databases for Journal Articles

The following links are links to full-text databases that are likely to contain journal articles especially useful for English, language and linguistics. Some may be more useful to you than others depending on your topic, so searching in a number of different places will increase your chances of finding good information.

Hover over the 'i' icon  to read more information about each database.

You can use the following bibliographic databases to carry out a comprehensive search for journal articles in your subject area.  Follow the  button within each journal article record to find out whether the full text is available to you as a member of Aston University.

Web of Science

Search Web of Science™

Copyright 2014 Thomson Reuters   

JSTOR 'Register and Read'


The library subscribes to a number of journals on the database JSTOR, which you can access through the link above. However, JSTOR also offer an additional service that may be useful to you, called 'Register and Read'. Create a personal account here, then access a large number of journal articles that are not available through the library's subscriptions.

  1. Do an advanced search and untick 'Include only content I can access'. You can now search through all articles available on JSTOR, including ones that the library does not have a subscription to.
  2. Search your topic, and select an article that you would like to read from your search results. If the library has not paid for access to this article, there may be an option to click 'Read Online Free' above the article preview. Click on this.
  3. You can then add the article to your “reading shelf” to read the full text. You can save up to 3 articles on your shelf at a given time. After 14 days, you can remove articles and replace them with new ones.

Accessing journal articles not available via our subscriptions

Open Access LogoMany journal articles are now freely available online as they have been published "open access" in addition to their publication in a subscription journal.

You can use the following search tools to find open access journal articles:

If the item you would like to read is not available via Aston University Library, you can request the item from another Library.  This is called Inter-library Loan.  This service is available to all University students and staff. 

Aston University is a member of the SCONUL Access reciprocal scheme which allows members to visit and use University libraries in the UK and Ireland.  You are eligible to join the scheme if you are

  • academic staff
  • full-time postgraduate / postgraduate research student,
  • part-time studentSCONUL Logo
  • distance learner
  • placement student


Full Time Undergraduate students are not eligible for SCONUL Access membership, but may be able to use other libraries on a reference only basis under the SCONUL Vacation Access scheme.

How to find a journal article from a reference

The reference for a journal article usually looks something like this:

Author(s), (Year in brackets). Article title. Journal title in italics, Volume number (Issue number in brackets), Page numbers.

For example:
Clough, H., & Closier, A. (2018). Walking the talk: Using digital media to develop distance learners’ digital citizenship at the Open University (UK). Reference Librarian, Vol 59 (3), pp 129-133.

There are two main ways to find the full text of a journal article from a reference:

  • Type the article title into the Library Search (or your database of choice), and use Find it @ Aston button to access full text
  • Search for the journal title in the A-Z list of journals (link below)


When you find an article you would like to use in your piece of the work, the reference details can be found in the following way:

How to improve your keyword searches for journal articles

Keyword searching is generally what you use when you are first beginning a search. Try to break down your topic or research question into the overall main ideas; these main ideas become simple keywords which you may use to search a Library database.

It's useful to keep a keyword list when you are researching a topic. This will help you remember the words you have already tried searching, the combinations you have used, and any new words you noticed in search results that you want to try in your searches later.

Watch this short video to help you improve your search skills: