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This guide provides an overview of academic journal articles, the peer review process, and open access. This guide provides introductory information for new users to UCSB Library. If you would like further information please Ask a Librarian.
An academic journal, sometimes called a "scholarly journal," is a specific type of publication created to share academic research and scholarship. Just as a magazine contains articles written by different people, an academic journal also contains separate articles which are written by various scholars in the field. This is one way that scholars communicate with each other to share their knowledge. This is referred to as "scholarly communication." Other forms of scholarly communication can include books, book chapters, conference proceedings, and even extend to more informal mediums such as blog posts.
There are many ways to find academic journals and the articles within them at UCSB Library.
If you are trying to locate an academic article relevant to your topic of research, you can use one of the library's many search tools.
To begin, we recommend you use UC Library Search which will retrieve the library's online and physical sources in one simple search. You can type in a keyword, title, subject heading, or author name to begin directly from the library's homepage.
You can find additional sources by searching in specific databases. UCSB Library subscribes to hundreds of these databases. Most of these cover a specific subject, such as Economics, Feminist Studies, or Biology. You can find a list of our databases by using the Articles & Databases link on the UCSB Library homepage.
For further help, contact your UCSB Librarians.
Some academic journal articles go through a peer review process. This is where experts in a field of study review articles before they are published to ensure that the research is held to the discipline's rigorous standards. The significance of this process is that these experts (or peers) have read and approved the research as a useful contribution to the academic discipline. Once it has been through this vetting process, an article becomes peer reviewed. Note that even after going through the peer review process, there is no guarantee that an article will be published in an academic journal.
Watch "Peer Review in 3 Minutes" (3:15 min) to learn more.
Open Access (OA) is a newer form of scholarly publishing. It refers to scholarly research that is freely and immediately available online, worldwide. One of the many values of OA is that it removes financial barriers to accessing scholarly research.
OA scholarly literature often carries less restrictive copyright and licensing barriers than traditionally published works, for both the users and the authors.
You can find OA articles using UC Library Search and in many of UCSB Library's databases. You can also find OA articles on the open web through sites such as the Directory of Open Access Journals.