A journal is a magazine that focuses on a particular discipline or subject matter. Journals are sometimes referred to as magazines, periodicals, or serials. Journals are publications that specialise in a particular subject area, containing a series of short, in-depth articles which describe or report on new research.

Journal articles go into detail on very specific subject areas, and recent journal articles are a primary source of the latest research.


  • Peer-reviewed
  • scholarly and academic journals
  • Trade journals
  • Professional journal
  • Current affairs journals.

Peer Review

Peer review is a widely accepted indicator of quality scholarship in a discipline or field. Peer-reviewed (or refereed) journals are scholarly journals that only publish articles that have passed through this review process.

In academic publishing, the goal of peer review is to assess the quality of articles submitted for publication in a scholarly journal. Before an article is deemed appropriate to be published in a peer-reviewed journal, it must undergo the following process:

  •  The author of the article must submit it to the journal editor who forwards the article to experts in the field. Because the reviewers specialize in the same scholarly area as the author, they are considered the author’s peers (hence “peer review”).
  •  These impartial reviewers are charged with carefully evaluating the quality of the submitted manuscript.
  •  The peer reviewers check the manuscript for accuracy and assess the validity of the research methodology and procedures.
  •  If appropriate, they suggest revisions. If they find the article lacking in scholarly validity and rigor, they reject it.
  • Because a peer-reviewed journal will not publish articles that fail to meet the standards established for a given discipline, peer-reviewed articles that are accepted for publication exemplify the best research practices in a field.

Scholarly and academic journals

Scholarly journals provider articles of interest to experts or researchers in a discipline. An editorial board of respected scholars (peers) reviews all articles submitted to a journal. They decide if the article provides a noteworthy contribution to the field and should be published. There are typically little or no advertisements. Articles published in scholarly will include a list of references.

Academic search engines like are a far better alternative, and they abound online. Use the tools below to find journal articles, which are available in formats ranging from citations or brief abstracts to full text delivered electronically or in hard copy. Some articles are provided free. Often, a fee is required or access is restricted in some way. To find journals using regular search engines or web directories, try adding the word journal or the phrase “electronic journal” to your search term. In directories, look under your respective discipline. Yahoo, for example, lists eleven journals under Science/Biology/Cell Biology and twelve under Arts/Humanities/Literature/Poetry.

Trade journals

Trade journals are geared towards professionals in a discipline. They report news and trends in a field, but not original research. They may provide product or service reviews, job listings, and advertisements.

Indian Trade Journal

In order to keep the Indian trading community informed about the latest business opportunities in India and abroad, the Directorate General of Commercial Intelligence & Statistics (D.G.C.I. & S.) brings out the Indian Trade Journal, a weekly publication.  It is brought out every Wednesday. This unique govt. of India publication is the only official journal for publication of tenders of all government of India organisations. The Journal is being published since 1906.

As per the GFR of the Govt. of India (Para 29 of the Annexure to Chapter 8), The Indian Trade Journal should be regarded as the standard medium of public advertisements in India. Hence, the Indian Trade Journal (I.T.J.) is the standard medium as well as compendium of tender notices meant for purchase of stores for use in public service. For export promotion, the I.T.J. incorporates news capsules on policies, both Indian and Foreign, affecting India’s foreign trade.

Popular magazines

Popular magazines like People, Sports Illustrated, and Rolling Stone can be good sources for articles on recent events or pop-culture topics, while Harpers, Scientific American, and The New Republic will offer more in-depth articles on a wider range of subjects. These articles are geared towards readers who, although not experts, are knowledgeable about the issues presented.


Article elements

  • Title
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Theory/Literature review
  • Research method/ process
  • Results (sometimes divided into results & analysis)
  • Conclusions
  • Acknowledgements

There are a lot of writing guides available which provide advice on the structure of proposed articles. One example is the commonly known IMRAD (Introduction, Method, Results and Discussion) structure. The terminology may differ somewhat, as for example in the IMRAD scheme the literature review is integrated into the Introduction section, however, the above list presents the literature review separately. Also, discussion, which D stands for in IMRAD, is the same as conclusions in the above list. Discussion in the above list covers the interpretation of the result by the researcher. This again slightly differs from the IMRAD model. To sum up, there is no commonly accepted right structure and terminology. The differences between journals are, however, marginal, once you have understood the essence of the key elements. The best solution for a researcher is to follow the structure and terminology of their target journal.



When considering a title for your article, do familiarise yourself with the types of titles in the target journal, analyse whether they are more general or very specific. The editors-in-chief may want the article titles to sell and gain clicks.. Again, there are some journal and field specific differences in the types of titles, and following the practices of your target journal is the best approach. The suitable title length depends on whether your target journal favours indicative or informative titles. Journals favouring short indicative titles may, for example prefer titles with less than eight words. On the other hand, other journals may prefer long informative titles. However, researchers ought to attempt simplifying their titles even when longer ones are allowed.


The Abstract is one of the most central elements of your article, luring other people to read it and may also influence the acceptance of your article. An abstract must describe the purpose of your article. Moreover, it must describe how you have realised your research and provide few key findings and any practical implications. You can build your abstract by answering the following questions with one or two sentences for each one.

  • What is the bigger, more general field your article relates to?
  • What is the purpose of your article?
  • What methodology did you use?
  • What are the key results?
  • What are the practical implications of your research (how can the results be utilised by e.g. practitioners, society or companies)?
Statement of:

  • The question asked (present verb tense)
  • What was done to answer the question (past verb tense) – research design, population studies, independent and dependent variables
  • Findings that answer the question (past verb tense) – the most important results and evidence (data) presented in a logical order.
  • The answer to the question (present verb tense)

If useful, and where word limit allows, include:

·         One or two sentences of background information (placed at the beginning)

·         An implication or a speculation based on the answer (present verb tense, placed at the end)


Key Words

Most journals require the author to identify three or four key words which represent the major concept of the paper.  These are used for indexing purposes and must be selected from the Index Medicus Medical Subject Headings (MeSH).

For example “Physiotherapy” is not included in MeSH; the equivalent term is “Physical Therapy”.  In the rare event that an author does not have access to MeSH, the key words selected should be widely-accepted terms.  Lack of access to MeSH should be indicated at the time of manuscript submission.


Background to the topic (past verb tense)

–   What is known or believed about the topic

–   What is still unknown or problematic

–   Findings of relevant studies (past verb tense)

–   Importance of the topic

Statement of the research question

–   Several ways can be used to signal the research question , e.g.,

–   “To determine whether ………”

–   “The purpose of this study was to …….”

–   This study tested the hypothesis that ……”

–   “This study was undertaken to ……”

Approach taken to answer the question (past verb tense)


The Introduction justifies the significance of the subject matter and connects your work to previous research. This chapter can also include a definition of the key terms, if necessary. In reality it is better to use a limited number of terms and be consistent in their use. One rarely needs to invent completely new terms even when discussing something totally new. It is essential for the author to understand the true meaning of the terms used and be able to communicate them clearly.

Theory / Literature review

One can start writing the literature review by finding a few good articles, of which some are from the target journal, and maybe a few good books discussing your topic. Later on use these articles as a base and expand your literature review. Typically, finding one good article relevant to your research starts a chain reaction as some of the references in that article may also be relevant to your work. Write a summary of a few pages based on these articles and books. This will help in obtaining a relevant understanding of your research topic and will act later as a frame for the theoretical part of your article.

Research method / process

The article must describe your research, the set-up and research methods precisely. This way the reviewers can assess the scientific basis of your research and the justification of your results. In principle, the research method/process should be described so that another researcher can repeat the study. You must prove that the methodology you have chosen is robust and applicable for your study. Should you use research methods that are established in your field, it is enough to cite the methods and there is no need to describe these aspects in detail.

It is important to describe clearly how the research is done. If needed, you can visualise the research process. In addition, you can include more justification as appendices, if necessary (for example, in qualitative research the interview questions). In some fields, it is customary to discuss the reliability and validity of the research in the research method section.

Outline of the study design


–   Method of sampling and recruitment;

–   Number of subjects; and

–   Justification of sample size.

–   Inclusion, exclusion and withdrawal criteria;

–   Method of allocation to study groups.


–   Independent, dependent, extraneous, controlled.

Pilot Studies

–   Outcome of any pilot studies which led to modifications to the main study.


–   Equipment, instruments or measurement tools (include model number and manufacturer).


–   Detailed description, in chronological order, of exactly what was done and by whom.

Major ethical considerations

Data reduction/statistical analyses

–   Method of calculating derived variables, dealing with outlying values and missing data.

–   Methods used to summarise data (present verb tense).

–   Statistical software (name, version or release number);

–   Statistical tests (cite a reference for less commonly used tests) and what was compared;

–   Critical alpha probability (p) value at which differences/relationships were considered to be statistically significant.

Results and discussion

While analysing your results, think what the focus of your article will be. However, do not fix the focus of the article too early, but be flexible and open minded. If you realise that your results do not match your original idea, be prepared to re-focus. Let your key results define the article focus. In some cases you may even have a happy problem; you may end up having material for two separate articles.

Consider what the key results of your research are and present them clearly. Build the Results section of your article around these key results. Present your results in such an order that their logic is as easy for an outsider to understand as possible. Should you not have any better way to decide the order of presentation, use the funnel principle; from more general to more specific points. Remember to highlight the key results by using visual elements, such as lists, illustrations and tables. This way, anyone who quickly riffles through the article will focus on the key results and will automatically get a level of conception of your results.

You may include a Discussion section at the end of your results section to explain and contemplate the results. The discussion can either be a part of the Results section or a separate section of its own, whichever is in line with the practices of your target journal. Please note that the reader must be able to separate easily the research facts from the researcher’s own thinking.


·         Answers to the question(s) posed in the introduction together with any accompanying support, explanation and defence of the answers (present verb tense) with reference to published literature.

·         Explanations of any results that do not support the answers.

·         Indication of the originality/uniqueness of the work

Explanations of:

·         How the findings concur with those of others

·         Any discrepancies of the results with those of others

·         Unexpected findings

·         The limitations of the study which may affect the study validity or generalisability of the study findings.

Indication of the importance of the work e.g. clinical significance

Recommendations for further research


The Conclusions section, alongside the Abstract and Introduction, is one of the core elements of a journal article. The Conclusions section can be written up by using the following structure (one paragraph each):

  • Introduction
  • Results (one paragraph for each research question)
  • Significance of the research/practical implications, for example for the society, or business companies
  • Limitations
  • Recommended topics for further study

By using this type of structure, you can make it easier for readers to follow your thinking and enable understanding the core content without reading the entire article. It is important to include the practical implications of your research in the Conclusions chapter; discussing what the implications are for practitioners, companies, etc. Novice researchers tend to concentrate purely on the results and forget about the implications.  The Conclusions must be in line with the previous sections and should not present totally new results. The implications should, however, be discussed.


All important contributors should be acknowledged, for example persons who provided statistical or technical advice and assistance; the subjects; those who helped with recruitment’ and personnel who helped with the preparation of the manuscript.  If the research was supported by a grant, then the name of the funding body must be included.



Visual elements


By leafing through your article, a reader should be able to spot the main findings easily, as well as figure out how the research was conducted and locate any crucial definitions needed to understand your results.

Therefore it is vital that you highlight central aspects of your work by using visual elements. Visual aspects mean anything that differ from the basic text, i.e. figures, tables, listings. The purpose of using visual elements is to direct the readers’ attention to key aspects. One should, however, be conservative in using visual elements excessively as their use may cause unwanted confusion. Also, the use of overly complex illustrations that are difficult for an outsider to perceive should be well justified.

Aim to highlight your own work, not others’ work. The illustrations you use must be your own and should not have been published before. Try to distribute the visual elements evenly along your article. In an optimal situation these elements form a unified whole, just like a comic strip.


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