At university, the term 'journal' refers to an academic publication, appearing in regular issues, normally focusing on a particular discipline, which makes new research available to the wider academic and professional communities. Academic journals are not to be confused with trade journals or the popular magazines that you might buy from a newsagent.
Journals are one of the most valuable sources of information available to you because
- new research is likely to be published here first
- the articles are written by the original researchers
- they have very high quality control standards
Journal articles are usually very formally structured and will include not just the research findings but also a review of the pre-existing literature on the topic and details of the research methodology.