Scientific journals began in the mid-1600's as a way to facilitate scholarly communications. The first one was Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. As science has grown since then, so has the number of published journals. Today there are more than 100,000 scientific titles published. Journals are the most important resource for most scientists. Some journals are published by scientific societies, the most important ones for chemical journals would be the American Chemical Society (ACS) and the Royal Society of Chemistry. Others are published by commerical publishers like Elsevier, Academic Press, Marcel Dekker, Wiley, and Springer.
Types of journals
- By content
- Communications or "letters" journals: short papers, 2 to 4 pages long, containing the most important features of a discovery, lacking detailed procedures and discussion - Chemical Communications, Tetrahedron Letters
- Full paper journals - Chemical Physics, Angewandte Chemie. International Edition
- Hybrids: contain both letters and full papers - JACS
- Reviews - Chemical Society Reviews, Accounts of Chemical Research
- By subject
- Broad scope - Nature, Science
Cover all of science
- General - Journal of the American Chemical Society, Physical Review Letters
Cover all of a major area of science
- Subject - Journal of Organic Chemistry, Chemical Physics
Cover a major subsection of science
- Specialty -Nano Letters, Organometallics, Liquid Crystals
Cover a highly specialized area of research
Types of journal articles:
- News and reviews: Science News, C&E News
Specialize in short summaries of "hot" research in language aimed at non-specialists. Often written by journalists with science training rather than by scientists,
- Full papers: Journal of Chemical Physics, Tetrahedron
Majority of scholarly journals. Carry full-length articles on original research.
- Communications: (includes letters to the editor) Organic Letters, Chemical Physics Letters Specialize in rapid publication of short accounts of research results.
- Reviews: Accounts of Chemical Research, Chemical Society Reviews
Specialize in longer articles summarizing research in a particular field usually over a given time period. Written by experts. Authors often invited to submit a paper. Good place to start a retrospective search.
- Mixtures: Science, Nature
- Social Networking Applications: Electronic journals are now adding some Web 2.0 application, for example, ACS Nanotation site which gathers together nanoscience material appearing in any of the ACS publications.
Structure of journal articles:
- Bibliographic information - article authors and addresses, article title
- Abstract - may also include keywords
- Experimental section - extensive details may be found in supporting materials
- Results and discussion
- Supporting information - not all articles have this
- Communications - shorter, omit many of the sections above
- Review articles - summarize previously published research so usually don't include experimental section. List of references is usually extensive
Journal title changes
Journals do not remain static. They start, stop, merge, and change title, sometimes with dizzying rapidity. Major indexes, like Chemical Abstracts, will use the current title when indexing an article. Some libraries will keep all years together even if the title has changed drastically, while others will arrange by the title on the physical volume. Ejournal title changes can cause similar problems. Some publishers maintain each version of a title separately, but others will put all versions under the latest title. If your citation is to a paper an older version, it can be more difficult to find. You can trace a title history in the online catalog, in WorldCat, or in CASSI to name just a few helpful tools.
Cornell University Library has prepared a website that will help you to tell the difference between the levels of scholarship found in the periodicals collection of a research library. This is an important skill to develop given the importance of the periodical literature in chemistry. Distinguishing Scholarly Journals from Other Periodicals
There is a very basic tutorial on the Peabody Library website that you can view. Scholarly vs. Popular Periodicals