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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Twentieth-Century U.S. History

What is a journal?

What is a journal article and how does it differ from a book? Why do journal article citations include volume and issue numbers?  If you need to refresh your memory of these concepts, here's a quick overview..

Article Indexes

To do as broad a search as possible for relevant journal articles, try these options (bear in mind that you will need to use the built-in limiters to restrict your results to peer-reviewed journal articles):

  • Easy Search (from the Library's home page)

To find articles from scholarly journals in the field of history, try these two article indexes/databases:

Article Indexes for related subject areas

Digitized Journal Collections

There are several major collections of full-text electronic journals. In these databases you can browse individual issues of journals, or you can do a search across the entire database. Most of the journals in the following collections are scholarly journals:

From Citation to Article

If you have a citation for a journal article (for example, from a footnote in another article), and you want to obtain a copy of that article, you can start by searching to see if we have online access to the article. If you have the DOI, you can quickly check to see if the Library has online access to the article by pasting in this url: as a prefix to the numerical DOI. It will look like this:

If you don't have the DOI, you can use the other information from the citation, including the title of the journal in which the article is published, the title of the article, and the author's name, to search in:

If this fails, you will next need to determine whether the Library owns a copy of the specific issue of the journal in which the article appears. Therefore, the most important piece of information at this stage is the title of the journal, not the title of the article.

To determine whether the Library owns the journal, you will search the regular Library Catalog:

If the Library does not have a print copy of the journal, then you will use your complete citation to request a copy through interlibrary loan:

Interlibrary loan can usually obtain a journal article for you very quickly (much faster than for books), sometimes within one day.