Selecting Journal Articles
Where was the article published? Does it come from a scholarly journal published by a university press or one that is connected to an organization of researchers?
What is the author's main argument? See the accompanying abstract or skim the first page or two of the article.
What are the author's qualifications? Look at the brief biographical sketch accompanying the article or check the web. What other articles and books has the author published?
When was the article published? Are there more recent articles that may incorporate newer evidence and interpretations?
Reading Journal Articles Critically
How does the author summarize previous scholarship on the questions involved? Thinking about this will add to your understanding of the broader historical context.
What disciplinary approach/es does the author take? For example, is the article written from the point of view of history or political science? Are there interpretations from additional academic fields, like anthropology or sociology, introduced within an article that explores an historical or political question?
What makes this author's argument significant? What new ideas does this article offer?
What kinds of primary sources does the author use? What evidence does the author offer to support the argument and how does the author interpret that evidence?
What are the author's conclusions? What concluding ideas does the author draw from his or her argument? Do you find it convincing? Are there questions that were not fully answered?
People in Colombia protest the taking of hostages by the FARC and the ELN, 2008 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
The databases below allow you to search for journal articles by subject. When you find a title of interest, if the full text is not immediately available (as in JSTOR and Proquest), use the Find It button to check for Haverford's holdings.
See the Search Tips tab for examples of ways to develop terminology and construct search statements.
Usually researchers find more sources by looking at the footnotes in an article or book, but these will always be older than the publication you have in hand.
Citation indexes like the Web of Science (which includes sections for the Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities, and Science) are set up to search for sources cited in the footnotes of journal articles as soon as they become available.
This allows you to find newer articles which cite the books and articles you already know are key for your topic. By relying on connections between authors rather than subject words and by moving forward in time, citation searching can open up new avenues of research.
See this tutorial for more information on cited reference searching.
Professor Isaacs draws your attention to these journals and magazines as consistent publishers of quality work.
Journals in Peace and Conflict