How do you find print journal articles?


Note: Our new search engine Summon does not search our print journal collection.  While this might seem convenient, it does mean that you are missing out on a considerable amount of useful content.  Make sure to supplement your Summon research with a traditional database (where applicalbe) to make sure you have well-rounded results.

Sometimes you’ll come across a journal article that is only available in print, and not online.  (Try following the steps in the full-text journal articles blog post to see if your research is available online or in print).  This happens when something was published before the internet was invented (really).

The catalogue record for print journals will look like one of the following examples:

1. This journal (College and Research Libraries News) is only available in print at Western.  How you know is that there is no “click here for online access” link included at the top of the page:

2. Let’s say we’re looking for an article from the Journal of Nutrition Education and it was published in 1995.  You’ll notice from the catalogue record that this journal is available online through ProQuest, Scholars Portal, and EbscoHost, but not before 1997.

Underneath the database links, the record lists the library locations that carry this journal in print.  The first example also did this.  In our Journal of Nutrition Education example, you’ll see that Brescia (BRES), Education (EDU), the ARCC or Archives (ARCC), and Taylor (TAY) carry this journal in print, although not always for the same length of time. Note: if you see a library that you’re not familiar with – i.e. “ARCC” – click on the name of the library for more information.

If our made-up journal article was published in 1995, which library do we need to visit to find it in print?  Look at the dates underneath each library to find this information: it looks like Brescia is the only library that subscribed to this journal in 1995.

Your next step is to write down the call number of the journal above the name of the library you need to visit (in this case QP141.A1J86n). Make sure to also write down the volume, issue, and page number that your article is found in.  The author’s name and the title aren’t a bad idea, either.

When you have this information, head off to the library (although, with the Journal of Nutrition Education, you might already be in Brescia) – you will need to photocopy your article (sorry!!!).  Each library has a periodicals section where you can find print journals, which will be organized by call number.

Usually, entire volumes (i.e. every issue that comes in for a year) will be bound together so they look like a big book.  While I don’t have a picture of Brescia’s periodicals section, Google images produced a good example of what bound journals look like:

This is why it is important to have the volume, issue, and page number of your article: within each of these “book” looking things will include multiple issues of a journal, where sometimes page numbers start over again.  For example: imagine we put a whole bunch of issues of Macleans magazine together in a bound volume like you see above – it would be important to know which year, month and page number you’re looking for so you don’t have to flip through every “book.”

Periodicals cannot be signed out of the library, so it’s up to you what you do next.  You can definitely photocopy your article, or you can read in the library for as long as you like.

Good luck on your print journal adventures!

What, precisely, is a database? What do they have to do with journals?


Databases, in my opinion, cause the most headaches for Brescia’s students.  This is largely because their function is confusing and their purpose unknown to novice researchers.  I will try my best to sum up a ridiculously complicated system in a simple way:

  1. Journals, like magazines, are collections of articles that are published periodically throughout the year (hence the word “periodicals,” which you might have heard).  Most of these journals require a subscription, much like other magazines like Macleans or People.  Journals  can be published either in print (like a magazine) or online – many are available in both formats.
  2. Western Libraries, along with the affiliate colleges, subscribe to literally thousands of journals.  Each of these can publish anywhere from 5 to 20 articles each issue.  Keeping track of every single article, therefore, is a difficult task.
  3. Instead of listing each individual journal article in our Shared Library Catalogue, we rely on databases to do this for us.  This means that, in simple terms, databases are big lists of journal articles and other periodicals.  Databases are not part of Western’s website, but are separate companies that we pay to provide these lists of journals.
  4. Because there are just so many journals available, databases are usually organized by subject.  Psychology journals, for example, are often found in a database called PsycINFO.  (There are multidisciplinary databases, though.  ProQuest Research Library, Web of Knowledge and Scholars Portal are the names of some very broad databases that house articles in many different subject areas).
  5. The same journal title might be indexed (or listed) in more than one database.  This means that if you look for articles first in PsycINFO and then in ProQuest, some of the same article titles may appear.
  6. Here’s where it gets tricky: we use databases to search for what articles are available on a topic.  For example, if I choose PsycINFO, I can research topics related to psychology and get a list of journals that exist.  It is not guaranteed, though, that PsycINFO will provide the online version of the journal article.  As we have learned, there are many reasons for this: Western may not subscribe to this journal at all; we may pay for a different database to provide full-text access, or; we may only get the journal in print.

To sum up: rely on databases for telling you how many articles, if any, is available on your topic.  To actually find these articles, you will want to use the Shared Library Catalogue: this will tell you which journals we subscribe to and how to find them.  For more help, see the blog post: “How do you find full text articles?