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Using Magazines, Newspapers, & Journals

"My professor wants me to use journals for my research, as well as other 'periodicals'. What are periodicals and where can I find them?"

Periodicals: What Are They?

A PERIODICAL is any publication published on a regular basis (e.g., daily, monthly, quarterly, semi-annually). The generic name for journals, magazines and newspapers is "periodical." Periodicals contain ARTICLES that can be used for research. Here are some examples:

  • Los Angeles Times,a newspaper published daily
  • Time,a magazine published weekly
  • Black Scholar, a journal published quarterly

Why Should I Use Periodicals?

Periodicals often contain the most current research, news, or information available on any given topic. Sometimes periodicals are the only source of information we have, as some topics will never have a full-length book written about them. For some very current information and unfolding news events, there may not have been time to research, write, and publish a book length item.

Journals vs. Magazines vs. Newspapers

Even though journals, magazines, and newspapers are all periodicals, there are some important differences between them. You need to know about these differences before you start your research.

Type Content Scholarly or popular? Examples
Magazines Magazine content is general popular reading that tends to have short articles with lots of photographs and advertisements. Magazines often pay authors for the articles or author is on staff of the magazine. Magazines are generally considered to be non-scholarly publications. Time Magazine


Journals Journals are scholarly sources based on research studies. Journal articles are peer-reviewed or refereed and are written by scholars in the field. Journals often require knowledge of vocabulary that is specific to the subject area. Many instructors require that students use journal articles when completing research assignments. Communications Reports

Journal of Accountancy

Journal of Linguistics
Newspapers Newspapers are generally distributed daily or weekly and contain news articles, articles of opinion (such as editorials), features, advertising or other current interest information.

Authors often work for the newspaper.
Newspapers are generally considered to be original source materials that are popular in nature. New York Times

Los Angeles Times

Press Telegram

Daily 49er

Using Indexes and Research Databases

Though it may be possible to browse through the Library's current periodicals collection to find information, it certainly isn't a very efficient way to find articles on a subject. The way to be most efficient and save time doing research is to use indexes and research databases as the first step towards finding articles in periodicals. Indexes and research databases will let you look up information by topic, and they are major time-savers. They analyze the contents of periodicals so that you can search for articles in a number of different journals, magazines, etc. This spares you from randomly searching through the tables of content in periodicals.

For example, if you come to the Library and you want to do research on "body piercing as personal expression" or "privacy laws on the Internet," you should use a database or an index to find articles on these subjects.

Indexes are generally printed material, and research databases are online. Both will usually give you the information you need to find an article in the form of a citation or an abstract. Many research databases will also provide the full-text article. Indexes are generally found in the Reference Collection (1st Floor). Research Databases: Can be accessed from anywhere you access the internet (on- and off-campus). You can choose from an alphabetical or a topical list of all the research databases. If you need assistance in selecting an database, ask a Librarian.

What is a Citation?

Nope! A citation isn't a speeding ticket or a Library fine! A citation is the basic information needed about an article to find it in the CSULB Library. Indexes and research databases will always give you a citation. Citations include the following information:

  • Author of the article
  • Title of the article
  • Periodical Title
  • Volume/Issue information
  • Date
  • Pages

Here is an example of a citation:

Sample citation graphic showing author, article title, periodical title, volume, issue, year, page numbers.

If you found the previous citation, for example, you would go to COAST and do a search by for Amerasia Journal. If the Library has the journal, the location and call number will be provided. Click on the journal title in the previous sentence to see if the University Library owns this volume of the journal.

What is an Abstract?

An abstract is a brief summary. Some printed indexes and most research databases provide abstracts of the articles. This is important, because when you find an abstract, you can read a little about the article and decide if it is essential to your research. However, an abstract does not substitute for reading the entire article.

When you find an abstract, you will always get the basic citation information as well. Remember, the citation is all information you need in order to find the article in the CSULB Library. Note in the example below that this abstract is very brief. Sometimes abstracts will be only a sentence or two; sometimes you will find more extensive abstracts.

Sample article citation with a brief one sentence abstract graphic

Finding Full-Text

When you search a research database, there are many options for locating the article full text on the computer. The first is a direct link to the full text. Depending upon the database you are searching the link might say Full Text, View Article, HTML Full Text, .PDF or .PDF Full Text. Here is an example:

full text record entry

If you find an article that says its full text, all you need to do is print the article, save it on a computer disk, or email it to yourself!

If the full text is not available from the database you are searching, then you will be able to use the SFX button to determine if the library has the journal from another database or physically in the library.


Finding Full Text Using SFX

What is SFX?

SFX allows you to link seamlessly between electronic resources within the CSULB Library's digital collection. When you find a journal citation in a database, you will be able to click on the SFX link to bring up links to all places the article is available. If the CSULB Library has no electronic subscription, you will be directed to search COAST, the CSULB Library Catalog, or to order the item via Interlibrary Services.

How will I know when SFX is available?

SFX links may look different from database to database. Here are some different ways it might display:


SFX graphic

SFX graphic

SFX graphic

"Link to full text via SFX"

"Click to locate item"

Clicking the SFX link (or logo) will open a new window with direct links to various online sources for the article. Here is what the new window looks like:

SFX window showing full text availability

If the library does not have the journal electronically or in print then the new window will direct you to a link that allows you to request the item via Interlibrary Services. After you fill out the request form the full text of the article will be mailed to you free of charge. Here is what it will look like:

sfx with no full text availability with link to interlibrary services


Working From Campus Computer Labs or Home?

You're in luck. The research databases at the University Library are available on the web, so may be accessed from off campus from your home computer or office computer. In order to use the databases from off campus, you will need a Library Password. Check our Access Requirements for instructions.

Need More Guidance? Who You Gonna Call? -- Librarians!

There is a Librarian assigned to every subject taught at the University. They are information experts, and they can help you find what you need.

Librarians are here to help and there are many ways to ask for help from a librarian. You can find a list of Librarians and their subject specialties at Library Liaisons.

Appointments are welcome and encouraged!

Research Guides

You can also get help with researching a specific topic using the Library's Research Guides. .


You are now done with Section 2!

Go to the "Introduction to Section 3".