Journal Articles and Databases

Photograph of student looking at a journalUsing journal articles for your studies

You will be expected to make regular use of journals during your studies as they  contain the latest thinking and research in a subject area. There are different types of journals, including:

Academic – these are written by academics for a specific subject area or profession. They focus on research topics and feature peer-reviewed articles (articles are scrutinised by experts before being accepted for publication). Examples are the Mathematics Today and Engineering Managment Review.

Practioner – these are written by professionals or practitioners in the field  for people in the same position. The articles tend to be quite short in length with an emphasis on current practice and thinking. Examples include Elevator World, Material Performance and Mathematics Magazine.

For further information please see our video on What is a journal?

Finding journal articles

You might already know of certain journals for your subject area (for example, a tutor may have listed them on a reading list), but there could be good articles in other journals. Databases are a way of finding these journal articles (and other material such as book chapters, conference papers, theses etc.). They are not limited to the collections at the University of Northampton and are often international. Information contained in databases will be either full text or bibliographic:

  • Full text – the record includes a link to the electronic full text of the material which you can download or view online.
  • Bibliographic – the record includes reference details (e.g. author, article title, journal name, volume and page numbers) but not the whole text of the article.

NELSON versus individual databases

You can search for journal articles on a particular topic using either NELSON (Northampton Electronic Library Search ONline) or an individual database.

NELSON allows you to search across several databases at the same time and is useful to get an overview of your subject area.  Further information and guidance on NELSON can be found in our Introducing NELSON video.

In order to carry out focused research, you may find it more useful to search an individual database (for example, British Standards or IEEE). Depending upon your topic area there may be a number of relevant databases and it is worthwhile searching more than one as not all articles are listed in every database.

All databases can be accessed via your subject collection in the ‘Databases’ tab in NELSON or using the direct links below. To access most of the databases you will need to login using your university login details.

Note: If you are accessing electronic resources off-campus, you may find that your are required to login again to access a database or the full text of an article. Look for a link called ‘Institution login’ or ‘Sign in via Shibboleth’ (or something similar) and click on it. You may have to go through the steps to login again – select ‘University of Northampton (IDP)’ and use your university login. You should then be taken through to the database or journal you want.

Key databases for Engineering



British Standards Online
Full text access to selected standards, produced by the British Standards Institution.
Computers and Applied Sciences Complete
CASC covers the research and development spectrum of the computing and applied sciences disciplines.
IEEE Xplore
IEEE Xplore provides web access to more than 3-million full-text documents from some of the world’s most highly cited publications in electrical engineering, computer science and electronics.
IHS Standards Expert
Access to a custom collection of international standards and standard test methods.
Science Direct
Science Direct is a full text database of over 1000 journal titles and is produced by Elsevier. It covers 1995 to the present and is a higher level database covering most subject areas.
Direct online access to e-books.

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