Periodicals: the basics

What are periodicals?

Periodicals are an important part of academic study in any subject, and are often also referred to as journals or serials. They’re published regularly, just like weekly or monthly magazines.

Academic journals are a type of periodical, and are different from other magazines because they are written by academics and peer-reviewed for quality. They were first developed as a fast way of disseminating knowledge as they are quicker to publish than an academic book. Your tutors may recommend particular academic journals to you, or suggest you read a specific article from one.

Periodicals are normally published in volumes, with each volume split into different issues. So you might see a reference that says Vol.21, no.3, or 21(3).

Periodicals are now commonly available electronically, and these are often referred to as ‘e-journals’. Goldsmiths has subscriptions to hundreds of periodicals, including those available in print only, those available electronically and in print, and those only available electronically.

Finding Periodicals on the catalogue

You can search for periodicals on the catalogue by choosing the ‘journals’ search page and entering the title of the periodical. You won’t be able to search the catalogue by individual article, which is why it is important that you understand the reference you have been given to know the title of the periodical. Our induction video on the VLE, Deadline at Dawn, shows you how to do this (You will need to log in). Or you can watch a quick screencast of searching for periodicals on the catalogue.

Electronic periodicals can be accessed straight from the catalogue by clicking on the ‘findit@gold’ button. If you’re off campus you will need to log in with your IT username and password.

Print Periodicals in the Library

The print periodicals are classified in Dewey Decimal, just like the books, and have their own section on each floor. That means all you’ll find the periodicals most relevant to your subject on the same floor as the books on your subject.

  • 001-699 First Floor

  • 700-999 Second Floor

For many print periodicals, the most current issue is on display while the older issues are on the shelves. The periodicals on the second floor are split into two sections, with the current display issues and all periodicals from 700-770 in the Art Journals room, and the rest in the main sequence near the oversize and CD collection. Remember to check the ‘Holdings’ of the journal to make sure we have the issue you’re looking for, and to check where they are. If you find a journal with a location ‘reserve stack’, just ask at Special Collections and they will fetch it for you.

Periodicals on display in the 2nd Floor Art Journals Room

Top tips:

  • Remember we have both print and electronic journals, so if you don’t find what your looking for in one format, check the other!
  • Check out your subject guides for links to periodical databases and indexes specific to your subject, you can use these to find individual articles or their references by keyword, which is really useful when researching a topic.
  • If you get stuck with finding periodicals, ask at the Enquiry Desk for more help.
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