Journals are collections of articles, news, updates and opinion on current legal issues, which are aimed at academics, professionals and students. They are published at regular intervals throughout the year which means they can include very up-to-date information, and they usually focus on a specific topic so are useful if you want more detail on your topic than provided by textbooks. We have some journals in print, but most are available online via our databases. You should use journal articles rather than information from the Internet as they have been checked prior to publication and can be relied on to be accurate and authoritative.
The best way to find journal articles is to think carefully about your topic and identify the keywords that best describe the information you need. There are thousands of journal articles in the databases so you need to be specific - for example a search for "stop and search" will bring too many articles for you to properly look through. You may want to think about the people affected by an issue, the location, or the date. Narrowing your search will make your results more relevant.
Academic journals are important sources of the latest academic research, tend to include specialist articles, and can be very detailed. They may publish original research, or review current research within a particular field. They are usually peer-reviewed (ie they have been critically evaluated by other academics in the field). Professional Journals tend to include more news, short articles, current affairs, and information relating to legal practice , and are not usually peer-reviewed. Specialist Journals focus on a particular area of law and tend to cover both the academic and professional fields. The library subscribes to a small number of journals in print, but the majority are available online.
Which journals do we have in the library?
Most journals available in electronic form through databases such as Westlaw and LexisLibrary. The library buys just a small number of journals in print.
Quick guide to finding journal articles
DISCOVER@BradfordCollege is our online search tool and is a quick and easy way to search the College Library’s resources, print and electronic, and find full text information.
DISCOVER is a bit like using Google but the results are higher quality and more relevant to your course at Bradford College. If you are looking for information for an assignment DISCOVER is a great place to start.
To find journal articles, you need to use a library database. Databases are like search engines, but instead of searching the Internet, they search the contents of journals, books, reports, newspapers or magazines. The library pays to provide access to special academic databases that will provide you with content which has been evaluated and checked to ensure that the materials you find are of high quality. Once you get used to searching databases, you can save a lot of time because a lot of the work has been done for you!
Different databases provide access to different types of information. Discover searches across most of our databases at the same time so is good for an initial search. You can also search databases individually - this can be useful to refine your search. We recommend the databases listed in the right hand column to find journal articles for Public Services.
If you are researching a particular topic, the best way to find journal articles or newspaper reports is to use a database such as Discover. Think carefully about your topic and identify the keywords that best describe the information you need. See the tab on Search Tips for more information on constructing a search strategy.
There are thousands of journal articles in the databases so you need to be specific - for example a search for "police management" will bring too many articles for you to properly look through. The video below will help you identify keywords and other ways to focus your search.
If you want to browse a specific journal, eg. one that you have seen referred to in a textbook or by your lecturer, you should use the A-Z of Journal Titles. This will allow you to access the full text of over 20,000 journals in electronic format. Some are electronic versions of journals that are held in print in the Library. Some are journals that the Library does not have in our print collection, but which are made available as part of a database collection - Emerald, Computer Source, SPORTDiscus, General OneFile and Lexis Library for example.
Type in the title of your journal and click on search. You will see a list of matching titles. Click on Full-text Access and click on the database name that is listed. From here you should be able to browse different issues and search by keyword.
Before searching, think about:
Be prepared to read around your subject. You may not find an article which directly answers your assignment question, but instead you will need to synthesis information from a variety of sources. For example, you may find material on customer behaviour in a different setting to the one you are researching, but the argument and findings can be applied to your own topic.
Use the contents pages and indexes in textbooks to look up company names, theories or concepts. Don't just rely on your reading list - there is a lot of information out there!
Refer to the reading lists in books and journal articles, or use the related articles and cited by functions in Emerald and Google Scholar to widen your reading.
How do you evaluate what articles are most appropriate for your research? Use the CRAAP test to help you assess each article:
When was the article published? Does it matter for your topic?
Are there more recent articles you could use?
Does the information help in answering your question?
Is it at the right level? Is it too basic or too advanced?
Does it add to your understanding?
Does the author work for a particular organisation such as a University?
Is the author appropriately qualified to provide the information?
Has the information been peer-reviewed? If an article has been peer reviewed it will have been evaluated or edited by other experts in the same field.
Where does the information come from?
Is it supported by evidence?
Can you verify the information from another source?
What is the purpose or reason of the article?
Is the article objective? Does it give a balanced view? Is there hidden bias? Does the author use emotive language?
Has the author provided supporting evidence?
Does the article include references?
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